Edgar Prado’s phone rang; on the other end of the line was a man he’d shared great success with over the years who asked a simple question.
“Where are you going on the 8th?” Graham Motion asked.
“Wherever you need me to be,” Prado replied.
The 8th was Saturday, October 8, of course, and Motion needed the Hall of Fame jockey in Lexington to ride Miss Temple City in either the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile or the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.
Prado didn’t need to be convinced.
“We’ve been lucky together through the years. He’s been one of my greatest supporters for many years; I can’t thank him enough,” Prado said, walking under the grandstand back to the jock’s room at Keeneland.
Prado rode one race Saturday and won it, guiding Miss Temple City to a thrilling score over a loaded field in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile and end the filly’s three-race losing streak and second victory over males at the top level on Keeneland’s lush turf course. Miss Temple City held off a late run from favored Ironicus with Grade 1 winners Tourist and Mondialiste third and fourth, respectively, in the fifth of five graded stakes Saturday at Keeneland.
Prado earned the mount on Miss Temple City after Motion and her connections opted to make a change. Drayden Van Dyke rode Miss Temple City in four of her previous five starts, including a win in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile last spring at Keeneland.
Miss Temple City, a close fourth in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot with Ryan Moore in the saddle, finished off the board in back-to-back starts at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Diana and Grade 2 Ballston Spa. She led in the middle stages of the Ballston Spa before giving way to Strike Charmer, Lady Eli and others finishing fifth.
“We just felt we had to do something different after her last two races,” Motion said. “And then it was tricky this weekend because there’s a lot of people everywhere, but I’ve had so much luck with Edgar. It was kind of a no-brainer going with Edgar, I feel so confident riding him.”
Prado felt equally confident riding Miss Temple City, who races for the partnership of The Club Racing LLC, Allen Rosenblum and Sagamore Farm. He watched the filly’s races, particularly her last two starts at Saratoga, and knew he was getting a mount with a legitimate chance despite facing the likes of Ironicus, Tourist, Grand Arch, Mondialiste and stablemate Ring Weekend in the Shadwell.
“I studied this filly’s races a lot,” Prado said, conceding he didn’t get a lot of pre-race instruction. “That’s one thing about Graham, he doesn’t tell you a lot. He knows how I ride and I know how he trains. I think that’s why we’ve been successful together. She’d been running in tough races and this was tough, too, I just needed to work out a trip.”
Prado worked out a great trip, rating just behind the early speed of longshot Plueven and just ahead of Grand Arch, What A View and Kasaqui while Tourist, Mondialiste and Ironicus raced a little farther back early.
The pace was slow on the firm going – :24.39 and :49.18 for the two opening splits. Jose Ortiz, riding Ironicus, sensed the slow pace but didn’t want to take his mount out of his game up the backstretch with a premature move. Shug McGaughey, who trains Ironicus for Stuart Janney III, watched the race unfold and knew it might be a tall order to run down the speed.
“When they put the 24 and change up, I thought, ‘well, we’ll see a 47 now,” McGaughey said to Ortiz and Janney after the race. “Then they put 49 and change. I don’t think we were ever where he wanted to be. No pace, I was a little surprised at where he was.”
Plueven continued to lead past 6 furlongs in 1:13.47 and into the lane before Prado sent Miss Temple City after the leader while four wide into the stretch. Miss Temple City surged past outside the eighth pole and was moving better than Tourist just as Ironicus got rolling.
Ironicus ran past Mondialiste without any issue and passed Tourist late, but couldn’t get to the filly until a few jumps after the wire. Miss Temple City won by a head, running the last eighth in :11.80 to win in 1:37.04.
“When we made our run, that one horse (Mondialiste) kind of went out, carried him out, he sort of held onto his lead, then we switched leads and came on,” McGaughey said. “He ran huge. I don’t think he was ever where he wanted to be.”
McGaughey said Ironicus, off since a second to Flintshire in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan in early June, would go to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita next.
“We got a good race into him. We came to win but you never know what to expect when they haven’t run,” he said. “He had plenty of training, but he had missed some time. He always had a rider on his back. It was Saratoga before I was able to breeze him though. I just thought he ran a great race, that filly won here in the spring, she’s got a bit of affinity for this, we just never got where I thought he should be. It wasn’t the rider’s fault, just the way the race came up with no pace.”
Motion said Miss Temple City would also go to the Mile. She’ll meet a mare her connections have done a masterful job avoiding – champion Tepin – and an international field off her second Grade 1 victory over males.
Miss Temple City improved to 5-for-13 lifetime and pushed her earnings into seven figures with the victory. She’s now earned $1,213,038.
“She’s trained unbelievable, I worked her at Fair Hill on the turf course and she was spectacular,” Motion said. “She’s done so well, I would have been disappointed if she didn’t run well today. She’s been doing well all summer, it’s not like she just came to this.
“Her races this summer were tough because there was a frustration knowing how good she is. Watching her train in the morning, she’s spectacular. I felt like I was letting her down. I genuinely felt like that. When they go out there and can’t perform the way you know they can, you feel like you’re letting them down. But she’s always been on form, she’s always been right.”
And she was right, with the right rider, in the Shadwell.
Tepin upset in First Lady
Most of the near record fall meet crowd of 28,101 on a slightly breezy and sun-splashed afternoon were stunned to see Photo Call turn for home well in front of the Grade 1 First Lady Saturday.
Don’t count Kent Desormeaux, aboard the daughter of Galileo for the first time, among those surprised.
“I wasn’t surprised they weren’t nearby because this thing was running,” Desormeaux said shortly after winning the Grade 1 stakes for fillies and mares. “When she went into the far turn, hit another gear and threw her ears up … I said, ‘man, she is loaded.’ “
Photo Call was indeed loaded and up by 10 lengths by the time she zipped past the quarter-pole, running the opening 6 furlongs in fairly strong 1:10.73 after a soft opening quarter (:24.10) and half (:47.29). Celestine gave chase early up the backstretch, just ahead of Now Or Never and Tepin, before Tepin took over the role of closest pursuer into the lane.
“It would have taken something even more freakish than Tepin to keep up with her at that point,” Desormeaux said of Photo Call’s run into the stretch. “That’s the proof in the pudding right there, not even Tepin could keep up with her today. She was phenomenal.”
Tepin did indeed come up short, losing by 2 3/4 lengths in a game effort as she attempted to stretch her win streak to nine.
She started the win streak in last year’s First Lady, after back-to-back defeats in graded stakes at Saratoga. The winning run included the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, Group 1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last time out.
“Don’t take anything away from the winner, she ran a big race and my filly ran a big race, too,” jockey Julien Leparoux said. “Well see for the Breeders’ Cup now. … She’s still an amazing filly, just got beat today. She ran her race.”
Norm Casse, assistant to his father and Tepin’s trainer Mark Casse, was disappointed in the outcome but not the mare’s effort.
“The other horse got brave and we have left her with a little too much to do,” he said. “We never meant to come over here fully cranked. We backed off of her just a little bit after the Woodbine race, gave her an easy half-mile and we were hoping for the best. That’s why we picked this race in particular, we didn’t want her to run her A race today with the ultimate goal the Breeders’ Cup Mile and repeat. I haven’t lost any confidence in her, I think we’re still set up to do that and we’ll move forward from this race.”
“She beat another really good horse, Bill Mott’s horse (Celestine) is a good horse and we ran with her and put her away pretty good. I just think this horse got away from us a little bit. That’s all it is. It’s horse racing. If anything maybe it relieves a little pressure coming into the Breeders’ Cup Mile and we can come in repeat. I don’t think she ran disrespectful today; she ran a good race I just think the other horse had a little better trip, things got to go her way and we just got beat today.”
Smooth start, fast finish
The Casse barn got an immediate pickup after Tepin lost the First Lady when Classic Empire registered a professional victory in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity a shade more than 30 minutes later.
Professional because the Pioneerof The Nile colt kept the rider on his back, something he didn’t do when he wheeled at the start and dropped Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
Leparoux was aboard Saturday and Classic Empire shrugged off stubborn longshot Wild Shot and drew off to a 3-length victory over the late-running Lookin At Lee. He won the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity in 1:43.41.
A $475,000 purchase at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, Classic Empire broke his maiden during Kentucky Derby week and won the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in early July. He trained well at Saratoga for the Hopeful, and was the 3-2 favorite for the closing-day feature.
Then everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Fortunately Classic Empire, who races for John Oxley, came out of the race without any issues and the Casse barn got right to work on the colt for the Breeders’ Futurity.
Classic Empire stayed at Saratoga with a small string that included Tepin, Noble Bird and others, and breezed out of the gate with blinkers Sept. 15 without any issues. He breezed again from the gate once the string was sent to Kentucky, going a strong 5 furlongs at Churchill Sept. 23, again with blinkers. He wore blinkers in the Breeders’ Futurity, too.
“Literally the day after he was sound we took him out the track after the Hopeful with blinkers on, he’s trained with blinkers from that day forward,” Norm Casse said. “This horse looks at everything and he doesn’t just look, he reacts. He sees something, he stops. This horse benefits from the blinkers. We breezed him twice out of the gate to make sure the problem was fixed. He’s just trained really, really well.”
“He just breezes like an older stakes horse. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a horse go up to Saratoga and breeze the way that he did. How he gallops out, comes back un-tired. To do what he did today, having not run since June essentially, come and run a mile and a sixteenth and run a pretty legitimate time is testament to how talented this horse is.”
Notes: Mongolian Saturday confirmed his affinity for the Keeneland turf course with a victory in the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes presented by Keeneland Select to kick off the five-pack of stakes on Saturday’s card. He held off a furious late rally from Hogy to win the 5 ½-furlong turf stakes by a half-length. A 6-year-old son of Any Given Saturday, Mongolian Saturday won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland. He came into the Woodford on a four-race losing streak since, all Group 1 stakes overseas for trainer Enebish Ganbat. … Multiple graded stakes winner Irish Jasper earned her way into the field for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with a 1 3/4-length victory over Stonetastic in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. Owned by William S. Farish and David Mackie, the 4-year-old First Defence filly won an Aug. 12 allowance race at Saratoga in her previous start for trainer Chad Brown. … Keeneland reported a record total handle of $15,926,396 for the day, topping the previous mark of $14,135,204 set early in the 2007 fall meet.