February 2, 2023

Belichick denies stablemate Mighty Heart of Canadian Triple Crown in Breeders’

Belichick wins the Breeders' Stakes 2020
Belichick wins the Breeders' Stakes 2020 (Michael Burns Photo)

Trainer Josie Carroll made it a personal sweep of the Canadian Triple Crown on Saturday in the $305,667, but it was the maiden Belichick who provided the conditioner with a victory in the 1 1/2-mile third classic rather than Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales winner Mighty Heart, whose bid to become the country’s first Triple Crown winner in 17 years was rapidly foiled as the race progressed.

Although he broke sharp and made a quick lead entering the first turn, Mighty Heart was dogged through the first half of the race by rank outsider Kunal. Unable to settle, Mighty Heart was on or near the lead through demanding opening splits of :23.69, :47.45, and 1:13.02.

Although a maiden, Belichick had finished a clear second to Mighty Heart in the Queen’s Plate in what was only his third career start. A son of Lemon Drop Kid and out of the Montjeu mare Game, he was bred to, and appeared to be relishing, the distance and switch to turf in the Breeders’. Fifth down the backside and traveling in a smooth gallop under Luis Contreras, he appeared poised to make a big run when asked.

That time came approaching the turn into the long straight, when Belichick made a three-wide bid and seized the lead from an obviously tired Mighty Heart, who was out of gas more than a quarter-mile from the finish. Belichick comfortably maintained his advantage to the wire and won by four lengths, finishing up in 2:32.51 over a turf listed as good.

Owned by NK Racing and LNJ Foxwoods, Belichick returned $8.70. Meyer, a 54-1 outsider, finished second while English Conqueror ran third. Mighty Heart faded to seventh in the field of 11.

This was the second Breeders’ win for Josie Carroll, who trained Ami’s Holiday to victory in 2014. It was the third Breeders’ for Contreras, who rode Ami’s Holiday and Pender Harbour in 2011.

A distant third in his July 4 debut going 7 furlongs on the turf, Belichick was subsequently second in a maiden event on the Tapeta main track before his distant runner-up placing in the Sept. 12 Queen’s Plate over 1 1/4 miles.

“The Queen’s Plate was a breakout race for him,” Carroll said of Belichick. “We couldn’t come back that quickly to the (Sept. 29) Prince of Wales. A (young and inexperienced) horse needs a little time to regroup from something like that, and regroup he did.

“He was so distracted the first race. Off of that race he seasoned a little and more so the next race. The nerves are all gone, he’s turned into a real professional.”

Bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, Belichick is a full brother to Wonder Where S. winner Season Ticket and a half-brother Broken Game, a multiple stakes winner in Peru. He was sold for $300,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.