Friday’s renewal of the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland promises a changing of the guard. Defending champion Heart to Heart, a divisional mainstay making his fourth consecutive appearance in this race, faces a serious threat from Chad Brown’s up-and-coming Raging Bull who tackles elders for the first time.
Raging Bull went from unraced sophomore to Grade 1 star last term. A commanding debut winner over Keeneland’s grassy mile almost exactly a year ago, the Peter Brant colorbearer displayed that same nifty turn of foot to win a trio of graded stakes. The Dark Angel colt turned the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2)/Saranac (G3) double at Saratoga and crowned the season in the December 1 Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar. Regular rider Joel Rosario will guide Raging Bull from the rail in his four-year-old bow.
Heart to Heart was a perennial Grade 1 bridesmaid until early 2018, when finally breaking through in the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1). The Brian Lynch veteran made it back-to-back laurels by adding the Maker’s 46, after coming a close second in both the 2016 and 2017 runnings. Although Heart to Heart hasn’t won since, he’s run creditably in defeat in two outings so far in 2019. Now eight years old, the English Channel entire was third to Doctor Mounty after a troubled start in the Tropical Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Then Heart to Heart got the early lead he likes in the Tampa Bay (G3), only to be swamped late in fourth, beaten three-quarters of a length. He might not have his own way here with Great Wide Open also in the line-up.
Stronach Stables’ homebred Delta Prince, third in the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), is entitled to appreciate the cutback. The Street Cry half-brother to Royal Delta sports a 7-4-2-0 mark at a mile, including his signature win in the King Edward (G2) and a near-miss in the Fourstardave (G1). Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, aboard for both those efforts, regains the mount.
Shadwell Stable’s Qurbaan has yet to run a bad race since his repatriation from France. Up in time off the bench in the Bernard Baruch (G2), the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee has rallied for placings in the course-and-distance Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), Ft. Lauderdale (G2), and Tampa Bay where he collared Heart to Heart by a neck in third. The confirmed closer reunites with Irad Ortiz Jr. for the first time since the Spa.
Shadwell Turf Mile runner-up Great Wide Open comes off a productive winter at Fair Grounds. After romping in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial and finishing third in the Col. E.R. Bradley, the Irish-bred again found nine furlongs a shade too far when fourth in the Fair Grounds H. (G3). Nearctic (G2) hero Hembree, fourth in the Canadian Turf (G3) in his latest, finds a mile at the upper end of his distance range.
Multiple Grade 3 scorer Doctor Mounty, most recently a fast-finishing third in the Appleton (G3), steps up in class for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey. Likewise trying Grade 1 company for the first time is Clyde’s Image, whose sire, Get Stormy, won the 2011 edition for the same owner and trainer – Sullimar Stable and Tom Bush.
Also on tap Friday is the $100,000 Limestone Turf Sprint for three-year-old fillies, with an overflow field of 15 topped by the Wesley Ward duo of Chelsea Cloisters and Stillwater Cove.
Chelsea Cloisters was runner-up to Bulletin in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, and entered for a rematch in the Palisades Turf Sprint, before scratching from that opening day feature in favor of this spot. Stillwater Cove was likewise last seen in the Breeders’ Cup, but didn’t do herself justice in 10th behind Bulletin and Chelsea Cloisters on yielding ground. Last summer at Saratoga, however, Stillwater Cove had beaten Chelsea Cloisters as they served up the exacta in the Bolton Landing.
Play On brings a three-race winning streak for Brad Cox, capped by Gulfstream’s Melody of Colors where Ginger Nut was a troubled fourth in her American debut. Natalma (G1) runner-up My Gal Betty reverts to sprinting after flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and Herecomesthebride (G3). Santa Anita shipper Thriving, second in the off-the-turf Sweet Life (G3), should be happier back on the grass, and Blame the Frog was a close fifth versus the boys (and Chelsea Cloisters) in the Indian Summer over this course and 5 1/2-furlong distance in October.