You could imagine the screaming from Uxbridge, Ontario, as Larry Cordes and his family watched his Horse of the Year and Queen’s Plate winner MIGHTY HEART fight back between horses in a wild stretch run in the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs, May 29.
Making his second start of the year and second in Kentucky with trainer Josie Carroll’s assistant trainer Suzanne Lorimer, Mighty Heart was the second longest shot in the field of six older horses at odds of 9-1, but emerged as the nose winner in a three-horse photo with 3-2 favorite Night Ops and 9-5 second choice Sprawl under a deft ride by jockey James Graham.
The homebred by Dramedy – Emma’s Bullseye by City Place Mighty Heart covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.00.
Mighty Heart now heads home to his Woodbine base to prepare for Canada Day, July 1 and the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes.
American Dubai broke alertly and led the field through soft early fractions of :24.32, :49.07 and 1:13.71 with Mighty Heart in close pursuit and Sprawl just behind those two. After racing near the back, Night Ops commenced a wide rally on the far turn as American Dubai kicked clear to a 1 ½-length advantage.
Inside the final sixteenth of a mile, American Dubai was weary and began to fade as Mighty Heart charged between Night Ops, who was on the outside, and Sprawl, who was inside. The trio hit the wire together with Mighty Heart a nose victor over Night Ops and Sprawl another head back in third. American Dubai finished another two lengths back in fourth.
“He’s got a big heart that goes with his name,” Graham said. “He’s a very tough individual. Every time he had a horse that came alongside of him in deep stretch he wanted to stick his neck out to make sure he was still in front. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to ride such a gutsy horse like this.”
The victory was worth $92,070 and increased Mighty Heart’s bankroll to $797,759 (US) with a record of 4-0-2 in 10 starts. Last year as a three-year-old, Mighty Heart won the $760,633 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine and $299,163 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Mighty Heart returned $21.40, $7.20 and $3.60. Night Ops, ridden by Florent Geroux, paid $3 and $2.10. Sprawl, under Brian Hernandez Jr., paid $2.40 to show.
After American Dubai in fourth, South Bend and Guest Suite completed the order of finish. Silver Dust was scratched after acting up in the gate prior to the start.