LEXINGTON, Ky. — Here’s why trainer Graham Motion is running Miss Temple City in today’s Shadwell Turf Mile with its capacity 14-horse field instead of taking on only six other fillies and mares in the First Lady, also a Grade 1 race at a mile over the Keeneland turf:
Motion’s reasoning goes beyond the difference between the Shadwell’s $1 million and the $400,000 First Lady. Already the first filly or mare to win two Grade 1 races against males at Keeneland, Miss Temple City can further entrench her legacy.
“Obviously she’s done it before,” Motion said, referencing Miss Temple City’s sweep of Keeneland’s Maker’s 46 Mile and the Shadwell last year. “She’s done it twice. At this stage of her career, I don’t think we’re really going around to look for the easier spot. I think we’ve kind of got her back on track, and we’re looking to take on all challengers. At the end of the day, one is a $1 million race that she won last year, and one is a $400,000 race. They both are very competitive races. Neither one is an easy race. We just feel she has nothing to prove or run away from.
“… But yes, I do think it’s probably also to do with her legacy, for sure.”
Coincidentally, Miss Temple City is 0 for 2 against her own sex at Keeneland, finished second in both the Appalachian Stakes to superstar Lady Eli and the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (by a head) two years ago.
Miss Temple City comes into the Shadwell off a victory in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf over Zipessa, who is running in the First Lady. The motivation of sending Miss Temple City to Kentucky Downs was to get a reset after the mare started the year with defeats at Royal Ascot (her third trip in three seasons to Britain’s fabled meet) and then at Monmouth Park in the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker (G3).
“The biggest thing was that she’d gotten upset before her races this year, including in England,” Motion said. “I thought Kentucky Downs was just a great opportunity to get her in a quieter environment, where she might not get so wound up. And I think that’s exactly what we accomplished. The other thing was to get her back in a mile race where she wouldn’t have to run against the very best. We beat a very nice filly. But we didn’t run against the likes of Chad Brown’s fillies (Lady Eli, Dacita, First Lady favorite Roca Rojo). I think we accomplished two things by kind of getting her back on track in a sensible spot going a mile, which we know is her best distance. We also got her into the quiet environment where we were able to give her a good experience, where she didn’t get so upset beforehand.”
Miss Temple City finished fifth, beaten a total of 2 1/2 lengths, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile against the boys over Santa Anita’s turf. She rebounded to beat the girls in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar, site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
“The year we’ve had — certainly that would be a tremendous way to end with her — but I’m going to take it one race at the time,” Motion said. “But yeah, if she’s going to run against the boys in California, she might as well run against them now. You can certainly look at it from that angle.”
Miss Temple City is ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado. Her owners include Aaron Jutte's The Club Racing, Allen Rosenblum's Needle In a Haystack LLC and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank's Sagamore Farm.
Grace Clark/Reed Palmer photos