Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Thursday, July 18, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/18/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Promising Juvenilr Heart to Heart Breaks Loose in Debut

Owner Terry Hamilton may have had a disappointing result later in the afternoon of July 13 when his promising sophomore Dorsett lost in the Grade III American Derby, but that chagrin must have been assuaged by the fact that earlier in the day his talented juvenile Heart to Heart made a smashing debut in the first race.

Trained by Arlington International Racecourse-based Mike Stidham, Heart to Heart had been training well for the veteran conditioner, but had not been throwing absolute bullets in his previous three workouts.  “We base a lot of our works on gallop-outs.  The finish and the gallop-out are the key components, and he was working very well and against some decent horses in the barn,” reported Stidham. 

In Saturday’s maiden special weight event on Polytrack, Heart to Heart popped out of the gate under James Graham and opened up a two-length lead on what was noticeably not the fastest surface.  His wire-to-wire splits of :23.53, :47.74 and ultimately 1:06.93 for the 5½ furlongs still earned him a 76 Beyer Speed Figure, according to the Daily Racing Form.  Such a figure is the 10th-highest number of the year (highest is a 92) for a juvenile and second-highest on a synthetic surface (by one point). 

“We weren’t (initially) expecting that kind of quickness from an English Channel, but he showed it to us in the morning.  We expected a sharp break because of his gate works, but we also know he has the ability to finish,” Stidham explained. 

Heart to Heart is a son of Breeders’ Cup Turf-winning English Channel, a stallion whose offspring excel over a distance of ground – including graded stakes winners Channel Lady, Optimizer and Skyring.  All three of those progeny have won or ran their most best performances over nine and 10 furlongs on the turf. 

Heart to Heart’s dam is the one-time winner Ask the Question, a daughter of Silver Deputy out of a Cozzene mare.  Silver Deputy, a sire of pace-setting offspring who usually last at least a mile (Silverbulletday, Spring At Last, Badge of Silver), is where the bay colt gets his speed and precocity.  Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Cozzene, much like English Channel, simply adds stamina and a likely ability to perform on turf.  In essence, what Mr. Hamilton is getting here is a colt who can sprint five furlongs with a 10-furlong pedigree.

With a propitious pedigree and auspicious debut, it is no surprise that the colt might wind up in stakes next out.  “He’s a Canadian-bred, so we’ll be looking at a Woodbine stakes up there,” said Stidham.  His destination could wind up being the six-furlong $150,000 Vandal Stakes on August 11, which is restricted to Ontario-breds.  With a good showing there and a pedigree to stretch out, Heart to Heart could subsequently wind up in the one-mile Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 9.

Stidham also took the time to touch on Dorsett’s fifth-place finish in the American Derby.  “I was a little surprised he was up that close, but (jockey) E. T. (Baird) said he was a little aggressive and had it on his mind to be up there,” he said.  “Sometimes he can be like that.”  In contrast, in his allowance win four weeks prior, Dorsett had won from 12 lengths off the pace. 

After being urged to bid between foes and failing to sustain his momentum, Dorsett finish 2¾ lengths back at the wire.  At this time, his racing future is up in the air and contingent upon his training, according to his trainer.  Options include the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 17 at Arlington, the Grade II $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 9 and the Listed $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park on Aug. 3.  “The Mystic Lake Derby is definitely a possibility,” hinted Stidham.  “We won that last year with  Hammers Terror.”