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ELMONT, NY – Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso’s Musical Heart proved to be stakes-caliber in 7 previous attempts and finally broke through when maintaining his command throughout Friday’s $100,000 Flat Out at 1 3/8 miles for older horses over the main track at Belmont Park.
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Never worse than third in his last 9 starts, Musical Heart arrived at Friday’s engagement off 4 stakes placings at Aqueduct, the most recent of which was a runner-up effort in the Stud Muffin on New York Claiming Championship Day on March 27. He twice finished behind New York-bred legend Mr. Buff this winter when third in the Jazil and Stymie at the Big A.
Musical Heart broke alertly from post 3 under Trevor McCarthy and raced to the inside of Zoomer heading into the first turn, kicking 3 lengths clear of his foe down the backstretch while producing fractions of 24.75 seconds for the opening 1/4-mile and 49 for the 1/2-mile on the fast main track.
The field gained on the frontrunner, who completed 3/4 in 1:14.69 with a 1-length lead and was not coaxed until just past the 5/16 pole. McCarthy kept Musical Heart busy in upper stretch as he extended his advantage to 5 lengths.
Shadwell Stable’s Ajaaweed loomed large with a late move in final 1/8 of a mile, but Musical Heart was all heart and held on for a 3/4-length win in a final time of 2:19.35.
Ajaaweed finished second and it was another 9 1/4 lengths back to multiple stakes-winning Rocketry, who made his first start since winning the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Marathon (G2) on November 6 at Keeneland.
Trained by Rob Atras, who will saddle graded stakes-placed Maracuja in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs later in the afternoon, Musical Heart brought his lifetime record up to 30-7-10-5 and earnings to $367,005.
McCarthy said the 6-year-old Maclean’s Music chestnut went a little faster than ideal.
“He broke good and the instructions were not to fight him, so I just let him go,” McCarthy said. “He was going a little quicker than I would have liked, but he has a high cruising speed and that’s what he wants to do. At the middle of the turn, I got his big stride rolling and he finished up strong. He galloped out good, too.”
Bred in Kentucky by Sovereign Farm and Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm, Musical Heart returned $7.50 for a $2 win wager.
While Musical Heart kept his good form going, runner-up Ajaaweed made amends following 2 distant efforts heading into Friday’s race, making up considerable ground in the stretch.
“My horse was in a comfortable spot. The pace wasn’t that fast. He was able to maintain close to the pace, but the winner never gave up,” said Ajaaweed’s jockey Eric Cancel. “I thought we had a chance to get there, but we didn’t get there in time. The winner just got the jump; from the quarter-pole to the eighth pole, he opened up a few lengths and that made him get the victory. But I’m very happy with the performance of my horse and hopefully he keeps it going.”
Rounding out the order of finish were Zoomer, Irish Cork, and Air Attack.
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