Terry Hamilton's Heart to Heart showed his class at 7 years of age, gutting out a win in Saturday's Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf. The son of English Channel made the lead easily, then stayed on well late to win by about a neck over Kurilov. Off at odds of 5-2, Heart to Heart and Julien Leparoux covered 1 1/8 miles over the firm turf in 1:47.64 for trainer Brian Lynch. Kurilov earned the second position, while Hi Happy was third and One Go All Go finished fourth. The post-time favorite at 8-5, Money Multiplier did not fire and finished off the board.
“The elusive Grade 1!” laughed a jubilant Lynch. “Watching him come back in and blowing as hard as he blew after that race, he gave it his all to win the race. He's an absolute deserved horse to have a '1' next to his name. It's nice to get it done here, because he's always loved this track.”
Leparoux had Heart to Heart jump from the gates perfectly at the rail, and the gelding cruised up to the lead with hardly any encouragement. He was joined by a very keen One Go All Go for the first three-eighths of a mile or so, but Leparoux let Heart to Heart out to a one-length lead heading into the backstretch. Hi Happy and Kurilov kept close tabs on the two leaders through mild fractions of :24.15 and :48.74. Meanwhile, Leparoux was able to drop his hands onto the neck of Heart to Heart, both totally relaxed as they cruised down the backstretch in the lead.
Turning for home, Heart to Heart took off again to stretch his lead to almost two lengths. Kurilov got through at the rail and made his bid from second, but it took the length of the stretch and he was still not able to run down the frontrunner. Heart to Heart pinned his ears and dug in late to beat Kurliov by about a neck at the wire, while Hi Happy had a bit of a rough trip to finish third. One Go All Go was fourth.
“He broke good and I got to the lead, and I was pretty comfortable the whole way,” Leparoux said. “I'm glad the wire was coming, too, though because they were coming fast at the end. The horse he tries, he tries hard, and he deserves that Grade 1 win and we finally got one. We're all very happy about it.”
Bred in Ontario by Red Hawk Ranch, Heart to Heart was a $25,348 yearling purchase at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society sale. The Gulfstream Park Turf is his first Grade 1 win, and improves the gelding's overall earnings to over $1.7 million. Heart to Heart boasts a record of 14 wins from 34 career starts.
“Everybody loves Heart to Heart,” continued Leparoux. “He's a cool horse to be around in the morning and everything and he tries so hard. Here in the winter he's been winning a lot of races for us so the family loves him. When we saw him today my wife wanted to make sure that the kids were here and we're happy he got the job done.”
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