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Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes champion Mighty Heart will meet up with stablemate and Breeders' Stakes victor Belichick in the $125,000 Ontario Derby, set for 1 1/8 miles on the Woodbine Racetrack Tapeta on Saturday, November 21.
After Mighty Heart took the first two legs of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, Belichick turned the tables on the bay colt in the 1 ½-mile Breeders' Stakes on October 24, putting an end to Mighty Heart's quest to become the country's first horse to sweep all three races since Wando achieved the feat in 2003.
The Ontario Derby, for three-year-olds, will mark the first race for both since the Breeders'.
Race 8 at Woodbine on Saturday, November 21 - Post 4:58 PM
|1||Field Pass||2-1||Kazushi Kimura
|3||Mnemba Island||10-1||Emma-Jayne Wilson
|4||Lucky Curlin||6-1||Patrick Husbands
|6||Mighty Heart||7-2||Rafael Hernandez
|7||Dune of Pilat (FR)||20-1||David Moran
|8||Malibu Mambo||8-1||Justin Stein
Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll, enjoying an outstanding 2020 campaign, is looking forward to seeing them back in action.
"I couldn't be happier with how they both came out of that last race and how they are coming into this one. They're doing really, really well."
Owned by NK Racing and LNJ Foxwood, Belichick is now 1-2-1 from four starts in his career.
The son of Lemon Drop Kid, unraced at two, finished third in his career bow on July 4, following it up with a runner-up performance in his second start on August 1. After his second-place finish in the Plate, Belichick broke his maiden in style, taking the Breeders' Stakes by four lengths.
"They kind of broke early in the race so I just tried to see them and relax my horse as much as I can," said jockey Luis Contreras after the Breeders' win. "He was very uncomfortable; this horse has a different style to run so I just let him be happy wherever he wants to be.
"Turning for home, I was just in hand all the way to the quarter pole and I asked him to run from the stretch home and he did. I was just watching, just feeling my horse at the same time. And he was doing great the whole way. He came into this race very ready, good thing for Josie and all the crew."
Carroll is hoping for a similar performance on Saturday.
"It might be a little short for him, but he's just continuing to get better and better with each race. Obviously, it was a tremendous effort in the Breeders'. It was very impressive."
One-eyed Mighty Heart, who garnered big attention in his quest to win the Canadian Triple Crown, will look to rebound off his seventh-place effort in the Breeders' Stakes.
Bred and owned by Larry Cordes, Mighty Heart, a bay son of Dramedy, was at the top of his game in taking the Queen's Plate at Woodbine on September 12 and the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie on September 29.
Carroll expects a strong effort from the Ontario-bred, who will have Rafael Hernandez in the irons on Saturday.
"He's a horse that just tries every time he runs. He'll give you his all every race."
Mark Casse will be represented by Deviant, who was fourth in the Breeders' Stakes, and Lucky Curlin, who has two runner-up stakes results to his name.
A chestnut son of Daredevil, Deviant will chase his third career win in what will be his 11th lifetime start.
"I thought he ran really well in the Breeders'," offered Casse. "He had a crazy thing happen to him. We trained him about two-and-a-half months ago, and he trained on the main track and came back. When he got back to the barn, he was lame. Somehow, through his training and walking back, he had about a three-inch screw stuck in his foot. We don't where he got it. So he missed a bit of time and I was worried he might miss the Breeders' Stakes. But he ran well and had a little bit of a troubled trip turning for home. I'm not positive he's as good on the synthetic as he is on the turf, but we're going to give him a try."
Bred and owned by John Oxley, Lucky Curlin, a chestnut son of Curlin, comes into the race off back-to-back second-place finishes in the Marine Stakes (G3) and Toronto Cup Stakes.
The Kentucky-bred is 2-2-3 from 11 career starts.
"Lucky Curlin is a horse we had high hopes for early on in his career, and he disappointed us," admitted Casse. "But he's come around really well. I thought his last two races have been improved. He's equally effective, turf or synthetic, I would expect him to run well."
Casse is happy to have the Ontario Derby contested at this point in the season.
"This is the time of the year when you're trying to run against straight three-year-olds. I think it's extremely smart that Woodbine moved this race back. I think it gives the three-year-olds one more chance, the horses that ran in the Queen's Plate and those types of races. It gives them one more shot to race against their own age group, which I think is a good thing. That was a great move by Woodbine."
Malibu Mambo, considered at one point a top Queen's Plate contender, will make his third start of the season.
Trained by Kevin Attard for Stronach Stables, the dark bay son of Point of Entry won his most recent start, a three-length victory over 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine main track on October 11.
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