HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Saturday's $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park was decided at a mile. But the Grade 3 turf fixture essentially was over before the field completed the opening quarter-mile after Heart to Heart was allowed to relax on an easy lead, a pace scenario that ultimately led to a popular and convincing 2-1/2-length victory over Long On Value.
Heart to Heart, who shared the highweight of 123 pounds with Avanzare, has now won four of his last five starts and seven races dating back to the summer of 2014. In each of those victories, the 5-year-old son of English Channel led at every call, just as he did under another perfectly judged ride by Julien Leparoux in the Canadian Turf.
Heart to Heart was stalked from the outset by Avanzare while able to slow the pace to 48.01 seconds for the opening half-mile and 1:11.45 for six furlongs over the firm turf course. Leparoux gave Heart to Heart his cue once settling into the stretch, the leader responding by quickly opening a comfortable advantage that he easily maintained to the wire.
Long On Value raced well placed while saving ground, outlasting the fast-closing Divisidero by a neck to finish second while proving no match for the winner.
Heart to Heart returned $3.80 after covering a mile in 1:33.52.
"When you watched him run enough and see those little ears afluttering back and forth, you know he's traveling nicely," said Lynch when asked how he felt after seeing Heart to Heart in front by himself. "I was frightened the 9 horse [Passion for Action] might try to show a bit of speed and go with him, but he didn't seem to break as well, and we inherited the lead. As they went into that turn and he was sort of uncontested, you know he's going to gather momentum coming out of that bottom turn, and you can just see he stole a few lengths off them then, and he was full of run down the lane."
Lynch said the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland likely will be next for Heart to Heart.
"We're going to try to step him up a little bit next time," said Lynch. "It's probably a good time of year to have a miler come into form, and if you can pull off a race like that, they're guaranteed to have a little life when it's all said and done. Someone will stand him somewhere. A lot of these horses are so good to you during their career, and you want to make sure they get a good quality of life when it's all said and done."