Why Mighty Heart won’t win the Canadian Triple Crown
All eyes will turn to Woodbine on Saturday when standout 3-year-old Mighty Heart bids for a sweep of the Canadian Triple Crown in the $400,000 Breeders’ S.
Although beaten in three of his first four starts, Mighty Heart has displayed rapid improvement under the care of trainer Josie Carroll. Disregarded at 13-1 in the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, Mighty Heart led all the way under jockey Daisuke Fukumoto to dominate Canada’s Kentucky Derby equivalent by 7 1/2 lengths.
Mighty Heart was almost as impressive in the Prince of Wales S. at Fort Eerie, rallying from just behind the leaders to score by 2 1/2 lengths. Winning the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown has positioned the one-eyed colt to become the first horse since Wando in 2003 to sweep the three-race series, but victory in the Breeders’ S. is far from assured.
If you think the U.S. Triple Crown is difficult, you haven’t examined the challenge offered by the Canadian version.
Unprecedented versatility is required to win the three races. The Queen’s Plate is held over 1 1/4 miles on Tapeta, the Prince of Wales is a 1 3/16-mile journey on dirt, and the Breeders’ S. is 1 1/2-mile turf test.
It’s rare to find a horse who excels equally across all three surfaces. No horse has swept the series since the dirt track at Woodbine was converted to synthetic in 2006, and though Mighty Heart has handled the first two challenges with aplomb, the switch to turf for the Breeders’ S. is a major question mark. While Mighty Heart’s sire, Dramedy, did win the 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn (G3) on grass, Mighty Heart is 0-for-2 over the lawn, failing to challenge in a pair of winter maiden races at Fair Grounds.
Perhaps as a result of this potential vulnerability, Mighty Heart is expected to face a large field in the Breeders’ S. Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales runners-up Belichick and Clayton are back to give the favorite another go, along with the promising grass maiden winner English Conqueror. As a son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner and strong stamina influence English Channel, English Conqueror should handle the course and 1 1/2-mile distance of the Breeders’ S. just fine.
Mighty Heart clearly has the talent of an elite racehorse, and perhaps his raw ability will prove sufficient to overcome the odds and prevail in the Breeders’ S. But as a short-priced favorite switching to a surface he seemingly dislikes, Mighty Heart is hard to trust from a handicapping perspective. Bettors who play against Mighty Heart stand to be rewarded with a lucrative payday if a longshot beats him to the finish line.