TORONTO, ON – Larry Cordes homebred Mighty Heart has his one eye set on becoming the eighth Canadian Triple Crown champion since 1959 as he takes on several familiar rivals in Saturday’s $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine.
“He’s a little horse that’s overcome (a lot),” said his Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll. “There’s something in racing we call heart, and horses with heart are what you’re looking for, moreso sometimes than horses with talent.”
The Canadian Triple Crown is unique in that each race is held on a different surface. The first leg, the Queen’s Plate Stakes, is a 1 1/4-mile synthetic route at Woodbine; the second leg, the Prince of Wales Stakes, is a 1 3/16-mile dirt event at Fort Erie; and the Breeders’ Stakes is a 1 1/2-mile outer turf test back at Woodbine.
Each leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is restricted to Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds, with Wando being the most recent runner to complete the sweep in 2003. This year’s edition of the Breeders’ Stakes is slated as the 10th event on the Saturday card and has a local post time of 5:43 PM.
Here’s a look at the full field for the race:
1. Meyer 30/1 – He broke his maiden at second asking over the local synthetic surface in June 2019, but he didn’t find similar success in any of his 6 subsequent starts. Tagged for $40k out of a local 1 1/8-mile jaunt on September 12, his current connections run him back quickly after he finished third in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint over this course on October 11.
2. Enchant Me 50/1 – After only hitting the board once in his first 6 starts, he shed the blinkers and nearly broke his maiden in a 1-mile jaunt over this course, missing by 3/4 of a length. He was a well-beaten sixth in the Prince of Wales last time out but is bred for turf and distance; his sire, Magical, won 4 graded stakes on grass, including the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
3. Clayton 6/1 – He won 3 of his first 4 starts, including the Queen’s Plate Trial, then finished a decent third in the Queen’s Plate behind a pair of familiar foes. Second in the Prince of Wales last time out while making his dirt debut, he’ll touch turf for the first time and will attempt to give trainer Kevin Attard his first victory in this event.
4. Olliemyboy 12/1 – He broke his maiden at fourth asking and went straight to the Queen’s Plate, where he finished 11th, before finishing fourth in an off-turf 1 1/4-mile allowance on the local synthetic. Jockey Patrick Husbands, aboard last out and for his maiden-breaking effort, rides again for trainer Sid Attard; they’ve won 4 of their past 17 shared mounts.
5. English Conqueror 12/1 – Owner/breeder JWS Farms supplemented this English Channel gelding after he scored a game head victory to break his maiden in a 1 1/16-mile local inner turf route. Along with his sire’s penchant for producing strong stayers on the lawn, his damsire, Sky Conqueror, won multiple graded stakes over this course and distance.
6. Glorious Tribute 30/1 – He ended 2019 with a maiden-breaking effort over the local synthetic but has only hit the board once in 5 starts this year, each one coming against stakes rivals. He was a well-beaten eighth in the Queen’s Plate last time out and will try to improve upon his 2 prior turf tries; he finished sixth as a maiden and ninth in the Columbia Stakes.
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7. Deviant 30/1 – The first of two runners from the red-hot Mark Casse barn, he won the El Joven Stakes and the Sunday Silence Stakes in his first 2 turf starts last year but failed to hit finish better than seventh in his next 3 tries. He’ll look to rebound after finishing seventh in July’s Queenston Stakes, a 7-furlong local synthetic sprint while debuting under Casse’s care.
8. Mighty Heart 1/1 – A dominating gate-to-wire victor in the Queen’s Plate, he deployed tactical speed to stalk and score in the Prince of Wales. Though he crossed 11th in his lone prior turf try, that came in March and was just his second career start; he’s matured since then. Additionally, his sire, Dramedy, won the 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn Stakes (G2) on Keeneland’s lawn.
9. Belichick 7/2 – The favorite’s stablemate is still be a maiden, but he’s not missed the board in 3 career starts, including rallying to second in the Queen’s Plate to complete the barn exacta. His debut came on the local turf, finishing third behind a pair of next-out winners, and his sire, Lemon Drop Kid, was a 5-time Grade 1 champion who excelled the farther he ran.
“This is a really talented horse,” said Carroll, who won the 2014 edition with Ami’s Holiday. “I think from the moment he came in my barn, he showed a great deal of ability. If anything has surprised me, it’s that it has taken this long for him to really blossom. I’m not surprised to have him in this position. It’s also very rewarding to train a horse of his caliber.”
10. Kunal 50/1 – The quick-footed Temple City colt enters riding a 2-race win streak that came against $12.5 claimers in turf mile routes at Gulfstream Park. He was claimed after each of those victories and makes his debut here for new trainer Steven Chircop, who hits at 16% with runners first off the claim and 18% overall on turf – though this is a major class hike.
11. Told It All 12/1 – Trainer Norm McKnight claimed him for $25k out of a local 1 1/16-mile event on July 17 and promptly saddled him to victory in the Elgin Stakes, a 7-furlong sprint over the Woodbine synthetic. He returned to turf last time out and finished fifth in the Toronto Cup Stakes to earn a career-best 81 Beyer Speed Figure that’s this field’s highest on turf.
12. Muskoka Giant 20/1 – The second Casse barnmate in the field broke his maiden in a mile-long local turf event on August 15, then rallied up the rail to finish a decent fourth against allowance company on the synthetic a month later. He was a well-beaten fifth last time out in the Prince of Wales and will have Justin Stein, the meet’s leading rider, aboard for the first time.