Lifelong horseman Bob Feld is primarily known for his strengths in the sales ring. Together with his son Sean, Feld has been responsible for purchase, claiming, or matings behind Grade 1 winners Beholder, Action This Day, Balance, Bradester, Centralinteligence, Melatonin, and Adoration, among others.
But when Miss Temple City came home a head in front of the fast-closing Ironicus in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland earlier this month – a Win and You're In Challenge race giving her an expense-paid entry to the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 5 – it was a whole new type of exhilaration.
Miss Temple City is a homebred for Feld, and the 4-year-old Temple City filly, trained by H. Graham Motion, has exceeded any dreams Feld had when he started in the racing business as a teenager in California.
“It's a completely different feeling. It's a great feeling. When you breed one, it is almost like it's your kid. There's more specialness to it, a deeper feeling,” said Feld. “I'm a big dreamer. I've dreamt a whole lot of things in my life and luckily, a lot have come true. I never really dreamt I would breed a Grade 1 winner, so it's really surreal.”
Feld, who travels to all but the smallest regional auctions in the United States each year buying for clients, is used to having his pick of pedigrees and conformation when choosing his next runner. Breeding a horse comes with question marks: How will the sire and dam's conformation combine in a foal? Will that horse move as well as it looks? In Miss Temple City's case, Feld was thrilled with the cross to Artax daughter Glittering Tax (who he purchased for $6,000 specifically to participate in Spendthrift's Share The Upside program).
“If she wasn't the right physical type, I absolutely would have sold her. I wasn't breeding her to race, I was breeding her to keep the deal with Spendthrift,” said Feld. “As a matter of fact, Allen [Rosenblum] was interested in buying a yearling in 2013, I called him and said, 'You know, Allen, I didn't find anything at the sales for you, but I did breed a filly that I would have bought at auction. That's how much I like her physical.'”
Miss Temple City went to the Keeneland January auction as a short yearling and was an RNA at $10,000. Feld is a co-owner, along with The Club Racing, Allen and Georgia Rosenblum and Sagamore Farm. Miss Temple City has now won the G1 Maker's 46 Mile and placed in the G1 QE II Challenge Cup and G2 Lake Placid, with earnings of $1.2 million.
Feld followed his brother – former trainer and current horse racing radio analyst Jude Feld – to the racetrack after high school, and spent several years grooming and hotwalking. When he got married and started a family, Feld walked away from the track in search of a more “stable” line of work as a machine tool salesman. He soon realized how much he missed the racetrack and took a gamble, leaving his nine-to-five job and started selling partnership shares for Barry Irwin and Jeff Siegel's Clover Racing Stables enterprise. Owner John Amerman eventually asked Feld and trainer Ron Ellis to help find him horses at sale, and Feld spent several years schooling under Ellis before hanging out his own shingle as an agent.
“I love when college students ask me how to become a bloodstock agent, because I have no idea. It just kind of happened,” he joked.
Feld has developed a knack for finding graded stakes-level horses for relatively low prices.
“That's what I really like to do. If you buy a half-million-dollar Tapit that's a good horse, that's fine, and it's fun. But to me, that's easier to do than buy a first-year sire for $20,000,” he said, citing I'm Already Sexy (a graded stakes winner by Ready's Image he purchased as a yearling for $20,000) as an example. “You get lulled into thinking there's a lot of value in $150,000, and then you realize a lot of people in the United States don't earn that much in three years. Of course, there's pressure. We all pick more losers than winners. If you pick one out of three winners, you're killing it.”
Now, Feld buys horses for a number of clients with budgets large and small. After looking at thousands of horses in the last 25 years, he's developed a few “types” he likes best, but his interest in a horse comes down to something less tangible.
“Everyone can figure out a horse that's conformed nicely, but a lot of times it comes down to being more of a vibe than anything else,” he said. “After all these years looking at horses, there's definitely a template I like them to fit, but there's this, I call it 'the warm fuzzy feeling.' I only get it once or twice a year, and I can't explain it, but it's just there and I love the horse. If you showed somebody 10 horses you picked out, you wouldn't be able to explain why you just had the 'warm fuzzy feeling' on the one.”
Safe to say, although he didn't buy Miss Temple City at auction, she probably qualifies as a “warm fuzzy” type of horse these days.
Feld feels Miss Temple City's running style will set her up well for the Breeders' Cup Mile, where he hopes she will go three-for-three against males. If she exits this season sound, Feld is planning another run at Royal Ascot for the mare next spring. She finished fourth of nine in the G1 Coronation Stakes in 2015 and fourth again in the G2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes there earlier this year.
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