SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Terry Hamilton’s 6-year-old battler Heart to Heart returned victorious to Saratoga, his first appearance here in over three years, wiring the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap.
Breaking alertly along the rail under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Heart to Heart set fractions of :24.27, :48.01, 1:12.02, and 1:36.18 while Glorious Target applied early pressure. Rounding off the far turn, Heart to Heart responded well to his rider down the stretch, finishing the 1 1/16-mile turf race in 1:42.45.
“It was great,” Lynch said. “He got to dictate the terms. I had foreseen (Glorious Empire) putting a lot more pressure on us than he did. (Heart to Heart) was ready today, and the guys at Belmont, I give full credit to, they have done a great job getting him ready. He is a little horse. He doesn’t take a lot of work.”
Forge finished strongly to secure second ahead of Delta Prince, with Ring Weekend, Projected, Takeover Target, and Glorious Empire completing the order of finish.
It was Heart to Heart’s second win of the year (after the Grade 3 Canadian Turf) and second in as many attempts at Saratoga, having captured the Better Talk Now on August 20, 2014. His record now stands at 30-13-4-3 with career earnings of $1,354,870. Following the race, Lynch told reporters that the year-end goal was the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.
“I think we did a good job,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He’s a free runner, so I don’t like to wait with him, but he still had some left at the end. Brian Lynch has done a great job with him.”
Heart to Heart returned $6.60 to win, $4.30 to place, and $3.30 to show. Forge brought back $12.40 to place and $7.20 to show, while Delta Prince paid $3.70 to show.