Later today, Zagora will attempt to become the seventh horse to win the Diana two years in a row. Miss Grillo did it first, in 1946 and 1947; she was joined by Tempted (1959, 60); Shuvee (1970, 1971); Hush Dear (1982, 1983); Glowing Honor (1988, 89); and Forever Together (2008, 2009).
Tempted was bred by Christiana Stable and owned by Mrs. Philip duPont’s Mooring Stable. Racing three times at Saratoga as a three-year-old, she finished seventh in the Test, lost by a neck in an allowance, and won the Alabama.
In 1959, Tempted was undefeated in two starts at the Spa, one of which was the Diana, then run over the main track (it was switched to the grass in 1973). The wonderfully named daughter of Enchanted Eve was ridden regularly by Eldon Nelson, who garnered special notice by Joseph C. Nichols when Tempted won the Diana:
Everybody in the group that participated in the ceremony in the winner’s circle was happy, but no one was happier than Nelson. The jockey picked up 10 per cent of the $36,190 that Tempted earned. And just in time, too. Starting tomorrow, Nelson will be on the suspended list for ten days for a riding violation committed last Friday.
Nelson, who won the 1972 Preakness on Bee Bee Bee, defeating Riva Ridge, died this past March at the age of 85.
Tempted won that Diana by five and a half lengths, prompting Nichols to observe, “Tempted was in at second high weight of 122 pounds, but she might just as well have carried a feather, from the way she went.”
The Diana win was Tempted’s sixth that year; she’d win nine before the year ended, including victories in the Ladies Handicap and the Beldame en route to being voted 1959’s champion older mare in 1959. The chestnut filly was, according to the Montreal Gazette, a unanimous winner in the Thoroughbred Racing Association poll, the author noting,
No other filly or mare had been able to carry 128 pounds and finish either first, second, or third in 88 previous runnings of the Ladies Handicap…Tempted won the 1 5/16 miles race by almost three lengths in 2:09, setting an American record.
In 1960, Tempted returned to the Spa, running in an open handicap on August 12. Going seven furlongs over a fast track, she finished 10th, carrying 118 pounds. The chart notes, “Brief speed.”
Ten days later, Tempted was back, carrying 124 and running in the Diana for the second year. She ran her best races on or near the lead; in second for most of the race, she was in front at the quarter pole and won by seven, “going away easily.” Nichols called it a “smashing triumph, adding, “Tempted likes Saratoga.”
The mare made four more starts that year, winning only one, the Maskette, at Aqueduct on September 21. It was her third start in the Maskette; her record was 2-1-0.
Tempted’s career as a broodmare is unremarkable in everything except the names of her offspring. Her 1967 chestnut filly by Native Dancer was Lead Me On (32-8-1-9, $6,684); her 1969 filly, unraced, was by Neartic and named Near Me Now; Tempt Me Not, a 1963 filly, was sired by Thinking Cap.
Tempted earned $330,760 in a 45-start career; her record was 18-4-9. She’s not in the Hall of Fame, and mentions of her in racing books are scant. She’s in the Spa history books, though, and later today, we’ll see whether Zagora can join her.
Cited and consulted
“Eldon Nelson.” The Winfield Daily Courier, March 19, 2012
“Mare Beats Filly By Seven Lengths.” New York Times, Joseph C. Nichols, August 23, 1960.
“Mooring Stable’s Tempted Named Older Filly Champ.” Montreal Gazette, December 4, 1959.
“Tempted Beats Spar Maid in Alabama Stakes as Racing Ends at Spa.” New York Times, Joseph C. Nichols, August 28, 1958.
“Tempted Captures Diana Handicap at Saratoga.” New York Times, Joseph C. Nichols, August 18, 1959.
Tempted, Pedigree Query.
Tempted past performances from Champions, 3rd ed. Published by Daily Racing Form in 2011.