Heart to Heart is in control in the Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland

Heart to Heart is in control in the Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland

Anne M. Eberhardt

Heart to Heart Dominates in Maker's 46 Mile

Son of English Channel secured his second straight grade 1 victory.

While Heart to Heart provided plenty of thrills along the way, owner Terry Hamilton waited 34 starts to see the veteran son of English Channel  secure his first grade 1 stakes win at age 7.

The wait for a second top-level win was not nearly as long.

Just more than two months after Heart to Heart scored a frontrunning win in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1T), he alertly seized an early lead, led at every point of call, and cruised to a 1 3/4-length score in the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (G1T) April 13 at Keeneland. The decisive victory Friday also spared his connections, which included trainer Brian Lynch, any drama. He scored by a neck at Gulfstream.

"He just never stops giving. Julien (Leparoux) is just a great fit with him," Lynch said. "I think that was probably one of his best performances here today. You always worry about the Keeneland stretch. It's so long. We're always looking for the wire before it gets there. But today, when he broke clear, I thought someone's going to have to burst out of the pack to get him. He was on his game. We loved the way he trained coming into it, and we really felt like he was the best we've had him. He certainly showed it today."

With Leparoux aboard in the Maker's 46 Mile, Heart to Heart ran the first quarter-mile in :24.07. Speedy Southern California shipper Om tracked to his outside, and Ballagh Rocks pursued from the inside. Despite spotting seven of his rivals five pounds—Next Shares carried 120—Heart to Heart appeared to be well within his comfort zone throughout and breezed through a half-mile in :47.90.

Turning for home, Heart to Heart flashed another gear and quickly opened a three-length advantage that none of his rivals could threaten. He completed the one-mile test in 1:34.71 on firm turf.

Last year, Heart to Heart finished second by a half-length in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1T) in the fall at Keeneland, and he finished second in the previous two editions of the Maker's 46 Mile. He lost by a neck to American Patriot last year.

"He deserves to win this race. He had a couple of tough beats at Keeneland," Leparoux said. "He's a nice horse. Everybody loves him. He's a cool horse to be around. Last time (out), he got his first grade 1, which was very special, but to get a grade 1 at Keeneland is even more special."

Ballagh Rocks thrived while racing inside throughout to secure second, his third grade 1-placing in his past four starts. Forge rallied to finish third.

"The pace was a little slow in front. I thought there would be more speed in front," said Ballagh Rocks' jockey, Luis Saez. "I was following the winner early, and I did not want to put pressure on him, so I had to wait. When we turned into the stretch, my horse responded, but the winner was taking off. I had a clear run, but the winner was already gone."

Heart to Heart, the 3-1 favorite, returned $8.40, $4.40, and $3.20. Ballagh Rocks paid $5 and $3.80, and Forge returned $5.40 to show.

The victory marked the 13th stakes score—11 graded—for Canada's champion 3-year-old of 2014.

"He's just become a much stronger horse," Lynch said. "He's not a very big horse, but this year he's put on an enormous amount of weight, and he's just become that much bigger and stronger. He's got a little more stamina to him, and we're seeing it in his races."

Bred in Ontario by Red Hawk Ranch, Heart to Heart is one of five winners from six starters for the winning Silver Deputy mare Ask the Question. Hamilton purchased Heart to Heart for $25,348 at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) 2012 Canadian-bred yearling sale.

The victory was lucrative for Thoroughbred Charities of America, as Hamilton committed a portion of race earnings to the organization. The 7-year-old is the result of an English Channel season purchased by Darrell Bauder's Red Hawk Ranch in TCA's 2010 Stallion Season Auction. 

"As far as we know, Heart to Heart is the most successful runner produced from a season purchased in our auction," said Erin Crady, executive director of TCA.

Video: Maker's 46 Mile S. (G1T)