Heart to Heart will make his first start as a 7-year-old in the Jan. 13 Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park

Heart to Heart will make his first start as a 7-year-old in the Jan. 13 Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park

Anne M. Eberhardt

Heart to Heart Starts Sixth Season in Ft. Lauderdale

Dream Dancing the one to beat in field of eight for Marshua's River.

Terry Hamilton's Heart to Heart, who won the hearts of racing fans while compiling a résumé of longevity as well as excellence, will embark on his sixth racing season in the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2T) Jan. 13 at Gulfstream Park.

The 7-year-old son of English Channel  will seek his 10th graded-stakes and 12th overall stakes victory in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes, which highlights a 12-race program that also offers the $100,000 Marshua's River Stakes (G3T).

"He's not a very big horse. He's not very hard on himself. He doesn't take a lot of training," trainer Brian Lynch said of Heart to Heart. "Fortunately, through the grace of God, he's been a lovely, sound horse that keeps getting better with age."

Heart to Heart has won multiple stakes in each of the past four racing seasons since joining Lynch's stable following a promising 2-year-old season.

"Physically, each year as he's gotten older—he's still a full horse, so physically, he's got more substance to him—he's a little bit stronger as he's matured," Lynch said. "He's still got the (grade) 1 and 2's in his program, so it shows he still enjoys his job, and there's still a lot of run in him."

Heart to Heart finished 10th in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) at Del Mar in his last start. The Ontario-bred turf specialist set a pressured early pace between horses before tiring in the stretch, finishing only three lengths behind the victorious World Approval.

"The heat was on in the kitchen from the get-go. They got the half in (:45.65). You'd have to be a super horse to finish coming off those early fractions," 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."

Heart to Heart earned a trip to Del Mar with victories in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park and the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course, as well as grade 1 placings in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland. But he has shown distinct fondness for the Gulfstream turf course, over which he has won four stakes from five starts, including the 2016 Ft. Lauderdale. His only loss on the oval was a tiring fourth-place finish in last year's edition of the race.

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount aboard the enduring turf star, who is scheduled to face seven rivals, including Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Shining Copper, another multiple grade 1 stakes-placed warrior who does his best running on the front end.

"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.

The 8-year-old gelding finished second by a neck to Lukes Alley in the 2016 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1T) and third behind The Pizza Man in the 2015 Arlington Million XXXIII Stakes (G1T), but didn't win his first graded-stakes until taking the Nov. 23 River City Handicap (G3T) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start.

"He got loose on the lead, dared anybody to go with him and was game on the end," Maker said. "With his speed he's going to find himself up front. He's just a naturally fast horse."

Shining Copper, claimed by his current connections for $62,500 in May of 2015, has won eight starts and nearly $700,000 in earnings.

"He's just an old veteran that we're looking forward to getting back going. This was the race we were pointing for," Maker said. "He's 8 and still going strong. Everybody's different, but he's one that we're fortunate to run at that level at this age."

Jose Ortiz picked up the mount aboard Shining Copper, who is being pointed to the Sandy Lane Gold Cup in Barbados in late February.

"After this we're going to take him to Barbados. We've gone the last four years. We won the first two years we went and the last two years we've been second," Maker said.

Roger Attfield-trained Shakhimat is scheduled to return in the Ft. Lauderdale after capturing the Tropical Turf Stakes (G3T) over the Gulfstream course Dec. 16. Owned by Attfield, Dan Gale and William Werner, the 5-year-old gelding who won the 2016 Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T), will be ridden again by Edgard Zayas.

Wertheimer and Frere's All Included will be making his second start off  a seven-month layoff Saturday. He finished a tiring fifth in the Tropical Turf, three-quarters of a length behind Shakhimat. The Todd Pletcher-trained 7-year-old, who won the Appleton Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream last year, will be ridden by Luis Saez.

Trainer Scooter Dickey will attempt to saddle his second straight Ft. Lauderdale winner Saturday. After visiting the winner's circle with Flatlined last year, Dickey will be represented by One Go All Go, who lost a photo finish in a recent optional-claiming allowance at Gulfstream. Chris Landeros has the mount.

John Oxley's Dream Dancing heads a field of eight older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf for the Marshua's River. The 4-year-old Tapit  filly won the Aug. 19 Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T), before finishing seventh in her most recent start in the Oct. 14 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Lane's End (G1T). Trained by Mark Casse, Dream Dancing will carry two to six pounds more than the rest of the field.

Entries: Ft. Lauderdale S. (G2T)

Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 13, 2018, Race 11

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 5:00 PM (local)
11Summer Causeway (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateOscar Ulloa117Jaime Mejia50/1
22One Go All Go (VA)Keeneland Sales GraduateChris Landeros117Charles L. Dickey12/1
33Heart to Heart (ON)Irad Ortiz, Jr.123Brian A. Lynch1/1
44Diamond Bachelor (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLane J. Luzzi119Patrick L. Biancone20/1
55Shining Copper (KY)Jose L. Ortiz123Michael J. Maker7/2
66All Included (KY)Luis Saez119Todd A. Pletcher9/2
77Team Colors (KY)Joel Rosario117J. Kent Sweezey15/1
88Shakhimat (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateEdgard J. Zayas123Roger L. Attfield6/1
99Beneficiary (FL)Edgar S. Prado117Nick J. Mastronardi, Jr.30/1

Entries: Marshua's River S. (G3T)

Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 13, 2018, Race 9

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:00 PM (local)
11Inside Out (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose L. Ortiz119Martin D. Wolfson15/1
22Kylla Instinct (GB)Edgard J. Zayas117Roger L. Attfield20/1
33Vendita (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLane J. Luzzi117Patrick L. Biancone20/1
44Abbreviate (KY)Joel Rosario117Chad C. Brown4/1
55Gianna's Dream (OK)Keeneland Sales GraduateTyler Gaffalione121Michael J. Maker3/1
66King's Ghost (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateLuis Saez121Martin D. Wolfson10/1
77Ultra Brat (KY)Nik Juarez119H. Graham Motion6/1
88Dream Dancing (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.123Mark E. Casse8/5