She was already a multiple grade 1 winner and an Eclipse Award finalist. She defeated male rivals twice at the top level. Yet this season, her 5-year-old campaign, was supposed to be the one where the best version of Miss Temple City materialized.
That was the whole idea when initial plans for the dark bay mare were mapped out in the early stages of 2017, but as often happens in Thoroughbred racing, the best-laid concepts ended up clashing with reality. From the delayed start to her season to a couple disappointing ventures, nothing has gone according to script for the daughter of Temple City during the last several months.
"We just had kind of a screwed-up schedule this year, and we're just trying to get her back on track," said trainer Graham Motion.
If Miss Temple City is anything close to her old self, the first move toward righting the ship could come Sept. 9, when she will become the most accomplished horse to ever grace the unique venue at Kentucky Downs. The earner of more than $1.4 million towers in back class over the seven rivals she is set to face in the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3T) going one mile.
The end game of having Miss Temple City right for a run in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) at Del Mar Nov. 4 hasn't shifted, but her path there has been ripe with frustration so far. She initially put herself behind the eight ball when she had to miss a planned start at Keeneland after she got loose one morning at Palm Meadows Training Center and returned with some filling in a leg. She was then scratched out of both the May 6 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes Presented by Longines (G2T) and the May 13 Beaugay Stakes (G3T) at Belmont Park due to soft turf and attempted to capture the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in June without a start since her win in the Matriarch Stakes (G1T) at Del Mar Dec. 4.
Her freshness worked against her that day, as Miss Temple City was too close to the early pace in the Queen Anne before she faded to 13th. When she returned in a softer spot in the WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T) at Monmouth Park July 30, the 1 1/8-mile distance and some salty competition in the form of race winner Wekeela proved too much that day, as Miss Temple City finished third.
"We're looking for a victory. We're trying to find a spot to win," said co-owner Bob Feld, who also bred Miss Temple City. "We know she's a grade 1 horse and we know she can beat the best of the best. But the way she got started ... Saturday is obviously an important race to see where we stand with her.
"The way she got started—or didn't start really—and then going against the Europeans at Ascot, I don't know how much she got out of the race, because she didn't finish up real well. Then we were trying to find an easy spot at Monmouth, but at 1 1/8 miles she probably wasn't cranked up to go 1 1/8 miles off a comeback race like that. We're just trying to get her back on track—get a win into her. It's the third race off a layoff. We're looking for a big race out of her."
While Feld hasn't given up on the notion that Miss Temple City can handle the 1 1/8-mile distance, the eight furlongs of Saturday's test is clearly where she fits best.
Prior to annexing the Matriarch last winter, Miss Temple City became the first female runner to win both the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (G1T) and Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland. A return to Keeneland for either the Shadwell or the First Lady Stakes (G1T) is the goal should all go as expected this weekend. If that domino falls into place, the notion of having Miss Temple City peaking for Breeders' Cup weekend would suddenly be back on track.
"I'm still confident," said Feld, who owns Miss Temple City along with Sagamore Farm and Needle In a Haystack. "It remains to be seen, obviously, but I think she has had a couple solid excuses for not winning so far this year. Now we're in a position where she has to earn her way to the Breeders' Cup. ... But if all goes to plan, we hopefully win Saturday and she goes to Keeneland and wins like she has in the past, and then we're right back where we thought we would be early in the season."
Fellow entrants Zipessa and Linda are each graded stakes winners who, like Miss Temple City, are trying to rediscover their best days. Zipessa took the Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes (G3T) in July of 2016 at Parx Racing but has dropped seven straight since, including a ninth-place run in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1T) Aug. 12.
Linda, trained by Ian Wilkes, bested a field that included grade 1 winner Harmonize and future multiple graded winner Hawksmoor (IRE) in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs Nov. 25, but has lost her last four. She finished second last time out behind Ladies Turf Stakes entrant Beauly in the Indiana General Assembly Distaff Stakes July 15.
Kentucky Downs, Saturday, September 09, 2017, Race 7
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Beauly (GB) James Graham 125 Brendan P. Walsh 6/1 2 2Linda (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 121 Ian R. Wilkes 5/1 3 3Hone In (KY) Jon Kenton Court 121 Victoria H. Oliver 30/1 4 4Zipessa (KY) Joe Bravo 121 Michael Stidham 7/2 5 5Miss Temple City (KY) Edgar S. Prado 121 H. Graham Motion 1/1 6 6Majestic Angel (KY) Florent Geroux 121 Eric R. Reed 30/1 7 7Susie Bee (KY) Tyler Gaffalione 125 Michael J. Maker 8/1 8 8Seeking Paradise (KY) Chris Landeros 121 Joe Sharp 30/1
Kentucky Downs, Saturday, September 09, 2017, Race 7