During Saratoga Race Course's closing day Sept. 4, Terry Hamilton's Heart to Heart asserted himself as the pacesetter coming off the first turn in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Stakes (G2T), and crossed the finish line unpressured.
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, the 6-year-old son of English Channel , with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, was rather unchallenged on the lead, going :24.27, :48.01, and 1:12.02 for the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile contest. Heart to Heart finished up in a final time of 1:42.45 on the yielding Mellon turf course.
"It was great," trainer Brian Lynch said. "He got to dictate the terms. I had foreseen the 7 (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 and I look forward to the (grade 1) Shadwell Mile (at Keeneland Oct. 7) with him."
Ontario-bred Heart to Heart started the year with a fourth in the Jan. 14 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Park and followed that effort with a win in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3T) March 4. Shipping to Keeneland, he did well to finish second by a neck to American Patriot in the grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile Stakes.
In his previous outing June 3, Heart to Heart finished third by less than a length in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita Park.
"We will go the Shadwell Mile, that is a (Breeders' Cup) 'Win and You're In' and if he runs well then I think this horse will be very effective at Del Mar with them tight turns," Lynch said. "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."
Bred by Red Hawk Ranch out of the Silver Deputy mare Ask the Question, Heart to Heart touts a record of 13-4-3 from 30 starts. His earnings stand at $1,354,870.
The winner paid $6.60, $4.30, and $3.30 across the board. Forge returned $12.40 and $7.20, while Delta Prince paid $3.70 to show. Ring Weekend, Projected, Takeover Target, and Glorious Empire competed the order of finish.