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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Trainer Mike Maker’s faith in Temple paid dividends on Friday when the former claimer held off Kadar by a nose at the wire to tackle the $150,000 Gio Ponti Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 8 at 8/1 odds under Jorge Vargas, Jr., Temple was able to clear enough to run two-wide through the clubhouse turn in second. Just ahead, Backtohisroots posted opening fractions of :24.95 and :49.96 while Temple applied pressure down the backstretch.
Midway through the far turn, Temple advanced alongside the early leader and began pulling away. Despite tough efforts from Forty Under to his inside and Kadar and Halladay on the outside, Temple proved too tough. Crossing the wire a nose in front, Temple completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the good outer turf course in 1:44.32 for co-owners Paradise Farms Corp. and Mad Dog Racing Stable.
“I was very happy where I was early on,” said Vargas, Jr. “He was doing things so easy. (Backtohisroots) was going so slow; he was drifting in and out. 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.”
Kadar outkicked the 7/5 favorite Halladay for second by 3/4 of a length, while Forty Under’s failed bid led to him finishing fourth. Proliferate necked out Pioneer Man for fifth, while behind them came Osage Moon and a spent Backtohisroots to complete the order of finish.
Chilly in Charge was a trainer scratch, while En Wye Cee and Majid were main track only entries.
Temple’s win was his first since Maker claimed him for $35,000 on July 28 at Gulfstream Park and improved his record to 13-4-2-2 with $208,970 earned. The 3-year-old gelded son of Temple City went from the claiming ranks to finish third in the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby and sixth in the Qatar Twilight Derby (G2) before his Gio Ponti victory.
Temple returned $18.20 to win, $6.50 to place, and $3.30 to show. Kadar brought back $5.10 to place and $3.10 to show, while Halladay paid $2.30 to show.
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