Updated on 09/15/2011 12:54PM

Tempera outdoing colts

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Benoit & Associates
Coming off a dazzling victory in the Sorrento Stakes, Tempera will be favored in Sunday's Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

DEL MAR, Calif. - When Eoin Harty signed on as the American-based trainer of 2-year-olds for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, Inc., he was given one mission: Give the horses a foundation for their 3-year-old year, with the focal point the Kentucky Derby.

Harty is still searching for the best Derby prospect among the colts in his barn this year. The best horse in his barn, well, that's already been determined.

Tempera, the morning-line favorite in Sunday's Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, is the most exciting runner in Harty's barn. Although Harty's 50-horse stable - now split among Del Mar, Arlington Park, and Saratoga - is tilted largely toward colts, it is this filly who gives Godolphin its first chance at having an American-based champion.

"We've got maybe 10 percent fillies, 20 percent max," Harty said at his Del Mar barn. "We've got far more colts than fillies. The Derby is the goal, but Godolphin is not averse to winning the Kentucky Oaks, either."

Tempera comes off a dazzling victory in this track's Sorrento Stakes, an effort that makes her the top-ranked 2-year-old filly in the country. If she can go on and win an Eclipse Award, she will be the third champion 2-year-old filly Harty has been associated with in recent years. When he worked as an assistant to Bob Baffert in the late 1990's, they won championships with Chilukki and Silverbulletday. Tempera, Harty believes, is every bit as good as those two.

"Before she broke her maiden, she worked so well at Santa Anita one morning that I told my assistant, William Balding, that I hadn't seen a filly like this since Chilukki," Harty said. "Very seldom do you have ones like this."

Tempera, a daughter of A.P. Indy and the Mr. Prospector mare Colour Chart, was bred by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud Management in Kentucky. She was sent to Dubai last October, where she was broken to saddle. Harty went to Dubai in January, and started training her in February. A slightly built dark bay filly with flecks of white on her rear legs, "she didn't look like much physically" six months ago, Harty said.

"She had no condition on her. She had the frame, but no condition," Harty said.

She did, however, have talent. "She started really developing toward the end of March," Harty said. "She put in a couple of really impressive pieces of work in Dubai."

Harty brought the Godolphin 2-year-olds to Santa Anita in April, and Tempera continued to train like a future star.

"She just progressed," Harty said. "People always say, 'How do you know when you have a good one?' Believe me, you know. What others are struggling to do, she was doing easily, and wanting to do more."

Tempera finally made her debut on June 10 at Hollywood Park. She finished a distant third, but Harty said he was not disappointed. "I'd only had one really good work into her," he said. "She wasn't quite ready to run, but if I missed that race, I'd have had to wait three or four weeks for another, and I was getting backed up with several others who were ready to run. So, I gave her a run. She broke a little slowly, and she got into a little trouble."

When Tempera returned on July 4 at Hollywood Park, she was the 3-5 favorite against maidens, and she won easily by three lengths. "I would have been very surprised if she got beat then," Harty said. A month later, Tempera was the 4-5 favorite in the Sorrento, and she ran the best race of her three-race career, cruising home nine lengths best.

Since then, Tempera has continued to train strongly. Yet she retains a placid demeanor, doing all her chores calmly, without fuss. She trains every morning at 9 a.m., among the last sets Harty sends to the track.

"She's very quiet, very unemotional," Harty said.

Like all good athletes, she lets her actions speak for her.