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LOUISVILLE, KY – Larry Cordes homebred Mighty Heart, the second-longest shot in the field of six older horses at odds of 9/1, emerged as the nose winner in a three-horse photo with 3/2 favorite Night Ops and 9/5 second choice Sprawl in Saturday’s second running of the $150,000 Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Josie Carroll and ridden by James Graham, Mighty Heart covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.00.
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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 1/2-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 2 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 with a record of 4-0-2 in 10 starts. Last year as a 3-year-old, Mighty Heart won the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine and the 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. Spawl, 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.
Mighty Heart is a 4-year-old Ontario-bred son of Dramedy out of the City Place mare Emma’s Bullseye.
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