By Ryan Martin
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Paradise Farms Corporation and Mad Dog Racing Stables’ Temple had just enough left in the tank to hold off a late charge from stablemate Kadar in the $150,000 Gio Ponti on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Piloted by Jorge Vargas, Jr., the gelded dark bay son of Temple City broke sharply and sat to the outside of pacesetter Backtohisroots, who laid down a leisurely opening quarter-mile in 24.95 seconds.
With the half-mile in 49.96 seconds, Backtohisroots maintained command but Temple assumed the advantage under little asking as the field approached the far turn. At the top of the stretch, Temple was asked for more by his rider, as graded stakes-winner Forty Under put up a bid toward his inside. In the final furlong, Temple was confronted by fellow Mike Maker trainee Kadar, who unleashed a furious bid to the outside, resulting in a photo finish. Temple came out a nose to the better of his stable mate, completing the 1 1/16-mile journey in a final time of 1:44.32 on the outer turf labelled good.
Kadar finished three-quarters of a length ahead of stakes placed Halladay.Completing the order of finish were Forty Under, Proliferate, Pioneer Man, Osage Moon and Backtohisroots.
“I was very happy where I was early on. He was doing things so easy. Kendrick [Carmouche], in front, his horse [Backtohisroots] was going so slow,” Vargas said. “He was drifting in and out. I was able to keep him in there. Mid-turn, I asked my horse a little bit, and he jumped on it right away. I was pretty comfortable going in. Mid-stretch, he wanted to hang on me a little bit, but the wire came just in time.”
Temple arrived at the Gio Ponti off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita. He was claimed by Maker three starts back for $35,000 from former conditioner Kathleen O’Connell.
Jose Ortiz, aboard runner-up Kadar, was pleased with his horse’s effort. “He ran good. He was up in there today against some good horses,” Ortiz said. “I followed the favorite Halladay (No. 5) all the way around there. I thought I got good position heading into the quarter-pole to get there but the winner kept going.”
Returning $18.20 for a $2 win bet, Temple notched a fourth victory in 13 career starts. The win was also his first victory away from the claiming ranks. He won three straight over the turf at Gulfstream Park over the summer, including a sixth-out maiden win for a $20,000 tag.
Bred in Kentucky by Mark Toothaker and Dan White, Temple is the second progeny out of the unraced Quiet American broodmare Desant.