With a whole lot of Heart on his side, Terry Hamilton is headed to his first Breeders’ Cup. The Lethbridge rider and his horse of five years, Heart To Heart, are stateside this week in Del Mar, California, the beach city in San Diego County, for this year’s running of the prestigious race beginning Saturday.
“I’m really excited,” said Hamilton. “It’s been my lifelong dream to get to the Breeder’s Cup. It’s the chance of a lifetime for me. These kinds of horses don’t come along all the time. So I feel very fortunate to be going.” Hamilton heads there with an aptly-named horse that has captured attention on both sides of the border.
“It’s kind of funny how he named the horse,” said Hamilton. “He was just a small horse and a two-year-old and he hadn’t run yet. We were in Chicago watching him work in the morning. We were trying to figure out his name. I said to my trainer (Brian Lynch) ‘Boy, he looks a little small.’ He said ‘Yeah, but Terry, he has a lot of heart.'”
There was a physical trait on Heart To Heart that also lent nicely to his moniker. “On his forehead he has a big, white heart, an absolutely perfect heart on his forehead,” said Hamilton. “So we said ‘Let’s name him Heart To Heart.’ My wife (Toby) came up with it. He’s quite a fan favourite in the U.S. right now.”
Hamilton purchased Heart To Heart at a yearling sale in Toronto in 2012. “I’ve had him since (he was) a baby and we’ve raced him from there,” he said. “He’s started 31 times and has had 13 firsts, five seconds and three thirds. He’s been a really nice horse.”
Heart To Heart also has genetics on his side. “I liked his dad,” said Hamilton. “His dad is English Channel and he won the Breeder’s Cup in 2007. So I liked the breeding. He’s not a really big horse.”
However, Heart To Heart put up the big numbers that earned his Breeder’s Cup debut with nine Graded Stakes victories. “Whatever they ran in Graded Stakes, there’s a point system,” said Hamilton. “Depending on how many Graded Stakes they’ve been in they get a certain amount of points for each race they win. That’s how Heart To Heart got in. He was leading in the points because he had won nine Graded Stakes races.”
Hamilton and Heart To Heart will race in the Mile On The Turf Division this weekend. With a wealth of international talent racing his division, the field will be strong.
“I think it’s going to be a very tough race,” said Hamilton. “It’s 14 of the top horses in the world for this division. Usually the European horses are a little bit stronger because they race on grass and a lot of time European horses are very strong on the grass. I think there are probably going to be about eight Europeans in this race. So it’s going to be tough.”
However, that’s not to suggest Heart To Heart will be out of his element. “We think our horse will do well,” said Hamilton. “The course we’re going to has really tight turns and that’s what my horse likes. He’s always out front and pretty much all of his 13 wins have been wire-to-wire. He gets around those corners so well.”
For that, Hamilton and Lynch have high hopes for Heart To Heart this weekend. “I’d like to be in the top-three,” said Hamilton. “My trainer thinks he has a good shot in the race.”
Hamilton and his crew left for California on Sunday. Heart To Heart drew the second-hole in the 14-horse field on Monday, and is one of three horses that opened at 6-1 odds, third in the field, behind Ribchester (7-2) and World Approval (9-2).
Reposted from Lethbridge Herald - original link