Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart appeared to be the likely controlling speed on paper in Monday’s $250,000 Bernard Baruch (G2), and so it proved a straightforward task for the 2-1 favorite.
The Brian Lynch trainee figured to use his rail post as an advantage over his only theoretical pace rival, Glorious Empire, who also helped him out by going wide on the clubhouse turn. Once Heart to Heart was on top through the opening quarter in :24.27, he sailed over the yielding Mellon course in :48.01, began to get away through six furlongs in 1:12.02, and built up a three-length advantage at the mile split in 1:36.18.
The lone closer to make a dent was Juddmonte blueblood Forge. By Dubawi and out of Heat Haze, the 13-1 longest shot on the board belied those odds with a determined drive, cutting the gap to 1 1/4 lengths at the wire. Delta Prince, the Street Cry half-brother to Royal Delta, couldn’t pick up as well and had to settle for third by the same margin. Next came defending Bernard Baruch titleholder Ring Weekend, along from last for fourth. Projected, Takeover Target, and Glorious Empire concluded the order of finish, while American Patriot and Highland Sky both scratched.
Under a well-judged ride by Irad Ortiz Jr., Heart to Heart completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.45 and advanced his record to 30-13-4-3, $1,354,870.
Bred by Red Hawk Ranch in Ontario, Heart to Heart was Canada’s champion three-year-old male of 2014 thanks to victories in the Jefferson Cup (G3) and Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs as well as the Better Talk Now at the Spa. The son of English Channel added the Oceanport (G3) and River City (G3) in 2015; last season’s Ft. Lauderdale (G2), Canadian Turf (G3), Knickerbocker (G3), and El Prado; and repeated in the March 4 Canadian Turf. Second in the past two runnings of the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland, the bay missed by only a neck to American Patriot in the April 14 renewal, and he was last seen finishing third to Bal a Bali in the June 3 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Heart to Heart is expected to return to Keeneland for the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Del Mar.
A $25,250 yearling purchase from the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Ontario sale, Heart to Heart is out of the winning Silver Deputy mare Ask the Question. He descends from the family of Grade 1 victor Chart the Stars, and his fourth dam is Irish champion juvenile filly Fair Astronomer.
Quotes from Saratoga
Trainer Brian Lynch on Heart to Heart: “It was great. He got to dictate the terms. I had foreseen (Glorious Empire) putting a lot more pressure on us than he did. He was ready today and the guys at Belmont, I give full credit to, they have done a great job getting him ready. He is a little horse. He doesn’t take a lot of work.
On the road to the Breeders’ Cup: “We will go the Shadwell Mile. If he runs well, then I think this horse will be very effective at Del Mar with them tight turns. I have always said that I think one of his biggest assets is how he runs the turns. So that would be the end of the year goal for him. If we didn’t do that then we have all those races at Gulfstream that he clean sweeps every year. So, we have something to look forward to, anyway.”
Winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr.: “I think we did a good job. He’s a free runner so I don’t like to wait with him, but he still had some left at the end. Brian Lynch has done a great job with him.
On his 53rd win of the meet, second to title-winning brother Jose: “It’s been a great meet. I can’t complain about it. I just have to say thanks to all the owners and trainers who helped me. I am just very happy with it.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott on runner-up Forge: “He ran well. He had a clear shot through the inside and he ran on well. I don’t have any complaints. The winner is a good horse and he was able to walk the dog today and no one was able to put any pressure on him early.”