Mighty Heart lived up to his name with a dominating score in the 161st running of the Queen’s Plate Sept. 12 at Woodbine, where the one-eyed colt trounced 13 opponents as a 13-1 longshot.
Originally slated for June 27, North America’s oldest continually run race was moved to Saturday due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the connections of Mighty Heart, it was well worth the wait.
Bred and owned by Lawrence Cordes, the Dramedy colt flew under the radar leading up to the Queen’s Plate, but the Ontario-bred bay, in his first stakes test, landed in the winner’s circle courtesy of a sensational wire-to-wire score in the Canadian classic.
Mighty Heart, trained by Josie Carroll, was directed to the front from post 13 as jockey Daisuke Fukumoto guided his charge over to the rail while the field passed the wire for the first time. He was joined to the outside by Tecumseh’s War, while Truebelieve raced in third with Plate Trial winner Clayton settling in fourth. Favored Curlin’s Voyage was forced into an outside journey as the field headed into the first turn of the 1 1/4-mile test on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface through an opening quarter-mile in :23.57.
One length on top after a half-mile in :47.61, Mighty Heart was still yet to be tested, but just after the 1:12.70 three-quarters mark, Curlin’s Voyage began her move from eighth. Clayton also was charging for home and made a bid to engage the pacesetter, but to no avail, as the leader easily repelled the challenge and rocketed on to a 7 1/2-length score.
“Unbelievable,” said Fukumoto, who won in his first Queen’s Plate start. “I can’t explain. He’s feeling good today, he bolted good. I saw that nobody [was going for the lead], so I just sent him and he just kept going. After the wire, he still kept going. He didn’t stop there.”
Belichick rallied to grab second, while Clayton settled for third, a neck in front of Tecumseh’s War. Curlin’s Voyage, Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly, was another head back in fifth.
It was a 1-2-5 finish with three starters for Carroll, who celebrated her third “Gallop for the Guineas” crown. The Canadian Hall of Fame inductee took the 2006 edition with Edenwold and the 2011 running with the filly Inglorious.
The final time was 2:01.98, the second-fastest edition of the Queen’s Plate run since 1957. Izvestia, who went on to win the 1990 Triple Crown, won in 2:01 4/5ths.
“I was concerned for a minute or two with the quick fractions but he looked like he was settling and doing it easily,” said Carroll. “We knew he’d go all day and he sure did. You know what, he’s just a very exciting horse who’s come a long way for Mr. Cordes, who’s had a lot of confidence in him from the start.”
Mighty Heart, who returned $28.50 for a $2 win ticket, now has two wins and a third from five starts. Out of the winning City Place mare Emma’s Bullseye, he broke his maiden in his third start, a 4 1/4-length score at 1 1/16 miles July 11 at Woodbine, and arrived at the Queen’s Plate off a third-place performance at the same distance. He is by far the most accomplished runner for Emma’s Bullseye, who produced three winners from three starters.
“He was sharp today,” praised Fukumoto. “I thought it was fast but I took the lead so I can’t do anything, you know, I let him go. He only has one eye, but he’s got a big heart, a mighty heart.”
The $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile race Sept. 29 over Fort Erie’s dirt oval, is the next race in the tri-surface OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, which winds up with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course back at Woodbine Oct. 24.
Wando, in 2003, was the last horse to sweep the series and the seventh since its exception in 1959.
Rideforthecause Upsets Cambier Parc in Canadian
Sam-Son Farm's homebred Rideforthecause stepped up to graded action for the first time in the $217,019, Grade 2 Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association Sept. 12 at Woodbine and rolled to a four-length victory at 22-1 odds.
The 4-year-old Candy Ride filly ridden by David Moran was near the back of the pack through the early running of the filly and mare turf event conducted at about 1 1/8 miles and rallied down the outside. She took over from 4-5 favorite Cambier Parc midway down the stretch and continued on to a final time of 1:45 on firm turf.
Rideforthecause entered the Canadian for trainer Gail Cox off an Aug.1 local allowance-optional claiming victory covering 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. She ran that distance in 1:41.34, missing the track record by :0.06.—Christine Oser