Heart to Heart may dominate Tropical Turf with his speed
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Forgive those last two races and consider his entire body of work. Chances are very good that more happy stories are still to be written about a fan favorite named Heart to Heart, whose seventh year of racing lies ahead.
One of the preeminent turf milers in North America the last couple of years, Heart to Heart will make his 8-year-old debut as a heavy favorite in the $100,000 Tropical Turf, which shares the Saturday spotlight at Gulfstream Park with its Grade 3 sister, the $150,000 Marshua’s River.
Heart to Heart, with Julien Leparoux to ride from post 6, figures to use his superior speed in dominating his six opponents from the start of the one-mile Tropical Turf.
“He’s a front-runner; he’s bold; he gets out there,” said Brian Lynch, who trains the Ontario-bred Heart to Heart for Terry Hamilton. “The way he’s training, being around him for as long as I have, I’d say he’s sitting on a big race.”
Although he faltered to finish out of the money in his two most recent starts, both came in Grade 1 company over turf courses with considerable give to them. A far different scenario awaits Saturday, when Heart to Heart will be taking what amounts to a colossal class drop and may likely hear his feet rattle over firm going.
“He loves this strip here,” said Lynch, referring to five prior stakes victories at Gulfstream for Heart to Heart, a two-time Grade 1 winner who has earned more than $2 million from 38 starts.
After a brief regrouping in the aftermath of a resounding defeat in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in early October, the bay horse with an unmistakable heartshaped blaze has rebounded in his training, Lynch said. Five December works over the Palm Meadows turf, including a couple of bullets, have Heart to Heart on his toes for his comeback.
“He’s back now and he seems to be doing as good as he ever has, so we’re really excited about running him,” Lynch said.
Vici (post 1, Tyler Gaffalione), stretching out from sprints, might have the early foot to keep Heart to Heart honest down the backstretch, but class will tell once they all straighten for home. If Heart to Heart is to somehow be dealt an upset, the most likely candidates are White Flag (post 2, Jose Ortiz), a steady Shel Evans homebred, or Your Only Man (post 7, Irad Ortiz Jr.), who has put forth solid efforts in three local attempts since being claimed by Marcus Vitali for $25,000 on closing weekend at Saratoga.
Rounding out the lineup are Holiday Stone, Doctor Mounty, and Mr Freeze. Conquest Big E will start only in the highly unlikely event the race is transferred to the main track.
This will be the 41st running of the Tropical Turf, a Calder holdover. The race acknowledges the old Tropical Park, which operated from 1931-72. It goes as the ninth of 12 races.
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