08/18/2003 11:00PM

Temperence Hill dead

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Temperence Hill, winner of the 1980 Belmont Stakes and that season's 3-year-old champion, reportedly has died in Thailand. The 26-year-old Stop the Music horse had stood in Thailand since 1996.

The horse's death was reported Tuesday in the trade magazine The Blood-Horse, which cited an unnamed high-ranking military official in Thailand who owned Temperence Hill confirming the stallion's death this summer at the Sawang Jai Farm near Bangkok.

Dr. A. F. Polk Jr. bred Temperence Hill in Kentucky from the Etonian mare Sister Shannon. Sold for $80,000, the colt raced for the Loblolly Stable of Arkansan John Ed Anthony and his then-wife, Mary Lynn Dudley. He never finished better than fourth in his first season at the races, but as a 3-year-old Temperence Hill bloomed into a champion. He won his first three starts in 1980, including the Rebel Handicap at Oaklawn for his first stakes victory. He became a classic contender with a 1 1/4-length win in the Arkansas Derby, but his star appeared to fade somewhat after that, when he lost the Withers and finished fifth in the Pennsylvania Derby. Trainer Joe Cantey entered him in the Belmont Stakes, but few gave him any chance of winning in the year when the main story was the rivalry between Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk and her nemesis, Preakness victor Codex. Dismissed at 53-1, Temperence Hill upstaged both, running Genuine Risk down in the stretch as Codex finished seventh.

Temperence Hill still seemed a longshot for divisional honors, especially after losing the Saranac, Dwyer and Brooklyn, as well. But he got back on track with a win in the Travers. His dominant performances later in the season in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, in which he beat John Henry by 5 1/2 lengths, and the first running of the Super Derby clinched his 3-year-old title. Campaigned again at age 4, he won the Suburban, Razorback, and Oaklawn Handicaps. He retired with a record of 31-11-4-2 and earnings of $1,567,650.

While at stud in North America, he sired a Grade 1 winner in Temperate Sil, and his graded stakes winners here also included Grade 2 winners A Penny is a Penny, Hill Pass, Sand Lizard, Imbibe, and Her Temper. Outside of the United States, his best runners included Panamanian champions Ulises, El Estelar, and Jamaican horse of the year Temperence Oaks. He also is the sire of Sam Sullivan, last year's American Grand National timber stakes winner.

Temperence Hill is the sire of 15 crops to race and, at the time of his death, had more than $25 million in total progeny earnings.