HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart finally clinched the elusive top honors, gamely wiring a field of eight tough males in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes.
Breaking briskly from the rail under Julien Leparoux, Heart to Heart held command through moderate opening splits of :24.15, :48.74, and 1:12.08. Put to task at the top of the stretch, Heart to Heart initially appeared to break away, but Kurilov came charging late. The two locked up, but Heart to Heart gamely held his ground and crossed first by a neck in a final time of 1:47.64 for the 1 1/8-mile grass event.
“Everybody loves Heart to Heart,” said Leparoux, who was accompanied in the winner’s circle by his wife, Shea, and their sons, Mitchell and Vinn. “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.”
Hi Happy took third after running out of ground to cover late. One Go All Go necked out fourth over Channel Maker, with Revved Up, Money Multiplier, and March completing a three-way photo to determine the final three placings.
Heart to Heart’s record was improved to 34-14-5-3 with career earnings of $1,737,290. The 7-year-old son of English Channel, already a multiple graded stakes winner, had finished second on three occasions in previous Grade 1 attempts for trainer Brian Lynch.
“The elusive Grade 1!” Lynch said. “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.”
Heart to Heart returned $7.20 to win, $4.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. Kurilov brought back $6 to place and $4.40 to show, while Hi Happy paid $5 to show.