Stealing 'Heart' bags Knickerbocker on yielding ground

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 10th, 2016

Heart to Heart, who long ago earned a reputation of stealing graded turf stakes, bagged another prize at Belmont Park on Columbus Day with a gate-to-wire score in the $200,000 Knickerbocker (G3).

Adapting to the yielding conditions, Heart to Heart was left unchallenged and set pokey fractions of :25.68, :51.47 and 1:16.33 while leading by a length over March, with 2-1 favorite Jay Gatsby tracking in third.

Asked for more by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. at the top of the stretch, Heart to Heart kicked clear by two lengths with an eighth to go, but saw that advantage whittled down to a half-length at the finish as Jay Gatsby made a belated rally.

Owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Brian Lynch, Heart to Heart covered nine furlongs in 1:50.62 and paid $8.90 as the second choice in a field of seven. Jay Gatsby was 2 1/2 lengths clear of Blacktype for the place.

A Sovereign Award winner in Canada at three, Heart to Heart also owns wins in the 2014 editions of the Jefferson Cup (G3), Commonwealth Turf (G3), and Better Talk Now; the 2015 renewals of the Oceanport (G3) and River City H. (G3); and the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) and Canadian Turf (G3) earlier this year.

Heart to Heart had made only two starts since taking the February 27 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream, finishing second in the Maker's 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland in April and fourth in the June 4 Shoemaker Mile (G1), at Santa Anita, the site of next month's Breeders' Cup Mile (G1).

"Definitely, the question mark was the mile and an eighth distance, but some of his best races are when he's fresh," Lynch said. "When you handicap the race there wasn't a lot of speed in it and if they left him alone he would be able to dictate his terms. He seems to do his best running late if he gets to dictate the terms. He's not a real big horse, he doesn't take a lot of work to get ready. It's nice when a plan comes together."

A five-year-old by English Channel, Heart to Heart was bred in Ontario by Red Hawk Ranch and was reared by the Silver Deputy mare Ask the Question. His record now stands at 23-10-3-2, $930,030.

(Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)