Terry Hamilton's Heart to Heart took the field from gate-to-wire in Monday's Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, crossing the wire 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Forge and Delta Prince. The 6-year-old son of English Channel was taken to the lead by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who set well-timed fractions to have plenty of horse turning for home. Trained by Brian Lynch, Heart to Heart covered 1 1/16 miles over the yielding turf in 1:42.45.
“I think we did a good job,” Ortiz said. “He's a free runner so I don't like to wait with him but he still had something left at the end. Brian Lynch has done a good job with him.”
Glorious Empire was quick out of the gate, but Ortiz was prepared with Heart to Heart at the hedge and urged his mount forward to secure his preferred front-running position. Though Glorious Empire kept up mild pace pressure, Ortiz would not be rushed and held Heart to Heart to fractions of :24.27 and :48.01. Takeover Target tracked at the rail in third, needed to be pulled off the leader's heels in the first turn, and Delta Prince had a good position on the outside in fourth.
Rounding the far turn, Heart to Heart began to extend his lead steadily. Delta Prince went wide to mount his challenge while Forge got a dream rail trip to be on even terms for second turning for home. They were too late, however, because Heart to Heart already had a three-length advantage. Forge ran up the rail strongly to close that gap to 1 1/4 lengths at the wire, and Delta Prince held third over late-running Ring Weekend.
“It was great. He got to dictate the terms,” Lynch said. “I had foreseen the 7 [Glorious Empire] putting a lot more pressure on us than he did. As Jose Lezcano [jockey aboard Glorious Empire] said, I owe him a mount. And I appreciate that. But, he was ready today and the guys at Belmont I give full credit to, they have done a great job getting him ready and I look forward to the [Grade 1] Shadwell Mile [at Keenland on October 7] with him.”
Bred in Ontario by Red Hawk Ranch, Heart to Heart was a $25,348 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale purchase. The Bernard Baruch is his ninth graded stakes win, improving his career record to 13-4-3 from 30 starts for earnings of over $1.3 million.
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