1980 Belmont winner Temperence Hill

1980 Belmont winner Temperence Hill

Barbara D. Livingston

Champion/Classic Winner Temperence Hill Dies in Thailand

Temperence Hill, whose upset victory in the 1980 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) set the stage for a run toward a 3-year-old championship, died over the summer at Sawang Jai Farm near Bangkok, according to his owner, a high-ranking military official in Thailand. The 26-year-old son of Stop the Music began his stallion career at Gainesway Farm near Lexington and was sent to Thailand in the fall of 1996 following several seasons in Arkansas.

Temperence Hill was one of 1980's early 3-year-old stars by virtue of winning the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and Rebel Handicap for the Loblolly Stable of John Ed Anthony and his former wife,Mary Lynn Dudley. He had lost that status going into the Belmont because of three straight losses in May. Headlining the 1 1/2-mile Belmont was the return match of Kentucky Derby (gr. I)-winning filly Genuine Risk and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Codex.

Forgotten was Temperence Hill, who failed to distinguish himself in a third-place effort on turf at Belmont a week before the big race. Trainer Joe Cantey had noticed that when jockey Eddie Maple let up on the whip, the colt relaxed. Cantey also knew that Temperence Hill was best going around horses rather than through a crowd.

Belmont Day came up muddy, and Cantey equipped his colt with mud caulks. That and Maple's ride did the trick. Sent off at 53-1, Temperence Hill was reserved early, went around horses on the far turn, caught Genuine Risk and the previous year's 2-year-old champion Rockhill Native near the eighth pole while feeling the full force of the whip, and went on to win by two lengths over the filly.

Temperence Hill raced eight more times that year, and secured three dramatic scores on the way to the 3-year-old championship. He won the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga to become the first Belmont/Travers winner since Arts and Letters in 1969, and took the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) over John Henry at Belmont. Temperence Hill's appearance in the inaugural Super Derby at Louisiana Downs helped get the $500,000 race off to a good start, and he ended up winning it by 5 1/2 lengths. Louisiana Downs later held a race in Temperence Hill's honor.

Temperence Hill also played an interesting role in Spectacular Bid's historic walkover in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The race also had attracted leading older male Winter's Tale, but Cantey had no intention of running Temperence Hill against both of them, feeling that one would be tough enough. Cantey changed directions after Winter's Tale was scratched the day before the race because of an injury and ended up scratching his colt. The other contestant, Dr. Patches, also was scratched, ensuring the Woodward would be a walkover.

Even though he never raced against Spectacular Bid, Temperence Hill came out on top in one of their battles. He was the year's leading earner, his $1,130,452 in earnings being some $13,000 more than Bid's total.

As a 4-year-old in 1981, Temperence Hill captured the Suburban (gr. I), Oaklawn (gr. II), and Razorback (gr. III) Handicaps, with his victory in the Suburban proving especially historic. He became only the second horse in history--and the first since Sword Dancer two decades earlier--to win the Belmont, Travers, Jockey Club, and Suburban..

Temperence Hill, who was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Albert F. Polk Jr., was retired to Gainesway, then owned by John R. Gaines, in the fall of 1981 as racing's eighth all-time earner, with $1,567,650. He had won 11 of 31 races. Loblolly had bought Temperence Hill for $80,000 at the 1978 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Temperence Hill, who was produced from the Etonian mare Sister Shannon, enjoyed several good years at Gainesway. Millionaire Temperate Sil was the best of his runners, winning the 1986 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and the following year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Hollywood Park's Swaps Stakes (gr. I). Other offspring such as Her Temper, A Penny Is a Penny, and Hill Pass were grade II winners, and there were several grade III winners, including Til Forbid, who ran second in the 1991 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.

Temperence Hill's career waned in the 1990s, and he was moved to D-Lan Farms near Bonnerdale, Ark. He later stood at Jon Starr's Starr Farm near Bonnerdale. To date, he is represented by 39 stakes winners, including three foreign champions.

Stop the Music is pensioned at age 33 at Gainesway, now owned by Graham J. Beck. One of Temperence Hill's half-sisters, Populi, produced a Loblolly champion in homebred Vanlandingham. A Jockey Club and Suburban winner, Vanlandingham earned an Eclipse Award as top older male in 1985.