One by one, the stablemates in her set step away from the rail and trot down the stretch. They roll into easy gallops and head off to do their work. Two hook up for a half-mile breeze, zipping past in a match race of their own. She just stands, tail backed up to the outside rail in the chute. She watches, sort of, and gives the impression of a police horse - standing guard while waiting for something to happen.
And then it's her turn. Her exercise rider, Robbie Walsh, hikes up his stirrups a few holes, asks her to move away from the rail and gets ready to earn his money. After walking up as part of a big group, Miss Temple City gallops on a nearly empty racetrack - leaning into the bit and pulling at the reins in Walsh's hands.
"He has to let everyone else go, because she can get so keen," says trainer Graham Motion with a nod to the tactics. Motion gets it, and appreciates the time involved. So powerful a stable staffer once referred to her as a Sherman Tank, Miss Temple City is a week from the most important start of her career - in the Breeders' Cup Mile - and showed her readiness with a powerhouse gallop on the Tapeta track at Fair Hill Training Center.
A day hence, Motion and Walsh will dial up a 6-furlong breeze in 1:12 - her first timed workout since she won the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Oct. 8. She'll face the likes of champion Tepin, Shadwell runner-up Ironicus and a phalanx of Europeans in the $2 million race at Santa Anita Saturday.
To Walsh, a former steeplechase jockey used to dealing with Thoroughbreds of all shapes, sizes and personalities, Miss Temple City can be a challenge - though one he embraces. Before Saturday's gallop, the daughter of Temple City was nearly asleep while fully tacked in her stall. Walsh was tightening the figure-eight noseband and saw her eye close.
"She's faking you out," said groom Lisa Conway.
Walsh agreed with a smile, "She's not going to be like that in 20 minutes time."
And she wasn't.
"Powerful, now," he said while riding back to the barn and sounding a bit like a guy finishing a 5-mile run. "If I don't do that (let the others gallop off), I won't be able to slow her down. If I don't do that, it can get ugly. Last Sunday was ugly. The first mile-and-a-half on the Tapeta, I was like 'oh my God, it better get better than this.' She got better as the week went on. Today was one of her better days. She listened to me, but she's sharp. She's ready to rumble."
She's been in that form for months. Before the Shadwell, Walsh told Motion that Miss Temple City was one of two things - over the top or in peak form.
"I couldn't tell you which," Walsh said. "She won and I was like, 'I guess we can't complain about her feeling good.' She's gotten stronger and better as the year's gone on."
Owned by The Club Racing, Allen Rosenblum and Sagamore Farm, Miss Temple City began the year by sidestepping 2015 female turf champion Tepin. The latter aimed for the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland April 16 so Motion pointed his filly for the Maker's 46 Mile a day earlier. Bred in Kentucky by Bob Feld Bloodstock, Miss Temple City accelerated off the turn and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Heart To Heart and Tourist. The daughter of Temple City then finished fourth in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at England's Royal Ascot. She was beaten a neck when fourth in Saratoga's Grade 1 Diana at 1 1/8 miles, then settled for fifth in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, also at Saratoga. Aimed for Keeneland in October and paired with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado for the first time, Miss Temple City shortened back to a mile and prevailed by a head over Ironicus in the Shadwell. If you're keeping score at home, she's unbeaten against males this year - and 0-for-3 facing fillies and mares.
After the solid effort in the Diana this summer, Motion thought about aiming for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/4 miles.
"I think it's hard when she's run two such monster races going a mile," he said. "It's kind of crazy to think about doing something else. I honestly think she might handle it, but . . . the Mile is going to be a very competitive race and there's no sense changing."
NOTES: Prado won the 2010 Filly and Mare Turf aboard Shared Account for Sagamore and Motion . . . Miss Temple City and Fair Hill's other Breeders' Cup starters, Sprint contender A. P. Indian and Juvenile Fillies runner Dancing Rags, ship to Newark Tuesday morning to catch a FedEx flight to California. Trained by Motion for Chadds Ford Stable, Dancing Rags worked 5 furlongs in 1:02 Sunday. Trained by Arnaud Delacour for Green Lantern Stable, A. P. Indian worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.4 Saturday.