It's only fitting that Tempera is the first horse to represent trainer Eoin G. Harty with an Eclipse Award. The daughter of A.P. Indy gave Harty his first career stakes win on Aug. 4, 2001, when she romped to a nine-length victory in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar.
After that victory, Harty downplayed his hand in the filly's success. "Trust me, the good ones, you can't teach them anything," he told The Blood-Horse
. "They either have it or they don't."
Harty, a 39-year-old native of Ireland who came to the United States to work in the horse business at the age of 17, is accustomed to letting others take the spotlight. A fifth-generation horseman, Harty worked as an assistant trainer in California for John Russell, then spent seven years as the number two man in the high-profile Bob Baffert stable.
In December 1999, Harty accepted a position as private U.S. trainer of 2-year-olds for Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin operation. Based in Southern California, Harty won seven races in 62 starts in 2000, with his runners earning $567,264. In 2001, with a second string based at Arlington Park, Harty won 21 races from 86 starts, for earnings of $1,771,064. At the end of each year, the young horses are turned over to Godolphin's primary trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, and Harty gets another draft of 2-year-olds.
The stable star of 2001 was Tempera, whose victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Belmont Park was Harty's first triumph in a grade I stakes. Harty also won graded stakes with Essence of Dubai, winner of the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, and Sunray Spirit, who captured the Cowdin Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park.
Harty took an unconventional approach to the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships with Tempera. The dark bay or brown filly, bred in Kentucky by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud Management, finished third in her first start at Hollywood Park on June 10. She left the maiden ranks with a three-length victory July 4, then dominated the opposition one month later in the Sorrento.
Tempera was a headstrong third behind Habibti next out, in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I), run three weeks after the Sorrento, and Harty blamed himself for the loss. "I came back too soon," he said. "She got revved up and lost her race in the post parade. She needs to learn how to relax."
Rather than send her to New York for the Frizette Stakes (gr. I, Oct. 6) or run her in the Sept. 30 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, Harty opted to point Tempera toward the Juvenile Fillies without the benefit of another prep race. Instead, he asked David Flores, Tempera's regular rider, to work with the filly in the mornings in an effort to get her to settle down. "He has a very good rapport with the filly," Harty said.
But Tempera had another obstacle on her road to the Juvenile Fillies. Two weeks before the race, the filly came out of a workout favoring her left front leg because of an abscess in her foot. Fortunately, she responded to treatment and a padded bar shoe that allowed her to continue training.
Tempera, sent off at odds of 11-1 in the Juvenile Fillies, had smooth sailing from the outside post in a field of nine. Flores kept her close to the lead while remaining on the outside, and she overtook stablemate Imperial Gesture in the final furlong to give Harty a one-two finish in a race whose winner has gone on to be voted an Eclipse champion in 15 of its first 18 runnings, from 1984-2001. Only Twilight Ridge (the 1985 winner), My Flag (1995), and Cash Run (1999) were denied an Eclipse Award after winning the Juvenile Fillies.
Tempera concluded her year with a record of three wins and two thirds from five starts, with earnings of $670,240.