The speedy and talented veteran Heart to Heart will take another shot at the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) on Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile turf test eluded him a year ago and is the only race in five previous starts over the Gulfstream turf he has lost.
Beaten only a length into fourth in that edition of the Ft. Lauderdale, Heart to Heart quickly rebounded to enjoy a stellar campaign that included victories in the Canadian Turf (G3) and Bernard Baruch H. (G2). However, Grade 1 success proved frustratingly elusive last season as well as he missed by less than a length in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), Shoemaker Mile (G1), and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
In his most recent start, Heart to Heart led with a furlong to go in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Del Mar but faded late to 10th, three lengths behind World Approval.
“The heat was on in the kitchen from the get-go. They got the half in 45 (seconds). You’d have to be a super horse to finish coming off those early fractions,” trainer Brian Lynch said. “The margin wasn’t so bad. He got beat by three lengths for everything. In the grand scheme of things, he ran very, very big to hang on as well as he did off the fractions he had to carve out early.”
Shining Copper, who placed in the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) two years ago, returned from a 13-month spell last September and won two his first three starts off the bench, including the River City H. (G3) at Churchill Downs. He also figures to display early foot.
“He’s a pretty strong horse to begin with. With Heart to Heart in there there’s probably going to be a strong pace up front,” trainer Mike Maker said. “After this we’re going to take him to Barbados.”
Shakhimat, who pulled off an 11-1 upset of the Tropical Turf (G3) over a mile last month, is another with early speed. Fifth in the Tropical Turf following a layoff of 6 1/2 months was All Included, who could move forward off that run. The Todd Pletcher trainee captured the Appleton (G3) last April after his elevation to second in the Gulfstream Park Turf.
Dream Dancing, the Mark Casse-trained gray who captured the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and Herecomesthebride (G3) last season, takes her first shot against older mares in the $150,000 Marshua’s River (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The daughter of Tapit was seventh behind stablemate La Coronel in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) when last seen in October.
“We had planned on taking her out and running her in the [G1 American Oaks] at Santa Anita [December 30], but unfortunately the plane canceled at the last minute so we weren’t able to get her out there,” Casse said. “She’s been training extremely well.
“This is a big step. She’s now got to run against the older girls and the race is probably a little shorter than she’d like, but we do know that she likes it at Gulfstream. She’s run twice and won twice, so that’s a nice thing.”
The one to catch might be multiple stakes winner Gianna’s Dream, second by a neck in the December 16 My Charmer (G3) in her most recent start.