Heart to Heart, runaway winner of back-to-back turf stakes including a four-length romp in the $110,000 Jefferson Cup (Grade III) during the September Meet, headlines a field of 13 three-year-olds entered for Saturday’s 11th running of the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
The region’s final graded stakes event of the year for 3-year-olds on turf will be contested over 1 1/16 miles and shares top-billing Saturday with the $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies. The first of 10 races is 12:40 p.m. ET and the Commonweath Turf will be run as Race 7 at approximately 3:37 p.m. ET. The Mrs. Revere goes as Race 9 at 4:36 p.m.
The diminutive Heart to Heart has thrived for owner Terry Hamilton and trainer Brian Lynch since August. Prior to his impressive gate-to-wire win in the Jefferson Cup, the Canadian-bred son of English Channel colt wired foes at Saratoga in the $100,000 Better Talk Now. He has remained in training at Churchill Downs since his Sept. 27 Jefferson Cup triumph.
“He’s very tiny but he gives everything he has – a cool, little horse,” says Julien Leparoux, who piloted Heart to Heart in the Jefferson Cup and will be back aboard Saturday breaking from post position five. “Obviously, he has speed and he’s going to break sharp and put me in the race. He’s been working pretty good in the morning so we’ll see. Last time he won pretty easy. Hopefully he can run the same kind of race on Saturday.”
Overall, Heart to Heart boasts a record of 4-1-2 in 11 starts with earnings that total $263,325.
Heart to Heart is one of three graded stakes winners in the field. The Michael Matz-trained Bashart, a $262,000-earner who won the $200,000 With Anticipation (GII) at age 2, is a two-time Grade III runner-up this season for Rosedown Racing including a three-quarter length loss to Divine Oath in the $150,250 Kent (GIII) at Delaware Park on Sept. 20. The race also lured Tim O’Donohue’s Wallyanna, the upset winner of the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (GII) on Aug. 8 at Saratoga for trainer Michael Pino.
The complete Commonwealth Turf field from the rail out (with jockeys): Woodfield Springs (Joe Rocco Jr.), Archway to Heaven (Jose Lezcano), Wallyanna (Irad Ortiz Jr.), De Facto (Jon Court), Heart to Heart (Leparoux), Stormy Pacific (Jesus Castanon), Other Cheek (Florent Geroux), Shiva Ryan (Diego Gomez), Highball (Channing Hill), Captain Dixie (Shaun Bridgmohan), Afortable (Robby Albarado), Hesinfront (Corey Lanerie) and Bashart (Luis Saez).
Five horses of the entrants are based outside of Kentucky: Bashart and Arnaud Delacour-trained Other Cheek from Maryland’s Fair Hill Training Center; The Mohamed Jehaludi-trained Shiva Ryan and Wallyanna from Gulfstream Park West; and the Dale Bennett-conditioned Stormy Pacific from Illinois’ Hawthorne Race Course. Horses that made their previous start outside of Kentucky have won half of the Commonwealth Turf’s 10 runnings, including the last four.
The stakes record for the Commonwealth Turf is 1:41.67, set by Get Stormy in 2009. The race is named in honor of Kentucky, which is one of four states constituted as a commonwealth, which emphasizes that it is a “government based on the common consent of the people.” The others are Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.