The Canadian Triple Crown is an interesting animal. These days it consists of three races in six weeks over three different surfaces and distances. It’s no mean feat. Only 12 horses achieved the treble, including such legends of the turf as With Approval and Dance Smartly. The last horse to win the “Crown” was Wando back in 2003. On Saturday at Woodbine (22:43pm), Mighty Heart bids to be become lucky number 13 in the Breeders’ Stakes going 12 furlongs on turf. Can he do the business? Let’s look at the field from the rail out.
#1 MEYER looks an unlikely upsetter. He was claimed two back and probably ran better than it looked last time against the raceflow. This is a massive step up in grade and distance and he’s a longshot even to just to hit the board.
#2 ENCHANT ME is still a maiden, and even his best run came with the benefit of a setup. An even longer shot than the rail runner.
#3 CLAYTON has always been well thought of and he’s shown why in the last several starts, establishing himself as a legit Graded stakes performer. He’s been well handled by Mighty Heart in the first two legs of the “Crown”, and hasn’t looked quite as genuine as that one. But if you want to make an excuse, you can point to what was maybe a slightly early move last time. Will he improve for turf? That’s very much of an open question, but with Smart Strike on the bottom and his success on synth, it can’t be ruled out. Looks a 7-1 shot or so to me.
#4 OLLIEMYBOY is devoid of early speed – that might not be a bad thing in a race that appears to have plenty of pace. On pedigree I am getting the vibes this distance should be okay, but with the grass, I’m not so sure. At 12-1 on the USA morning line, I feel he’s a bit underpriced, but I could see him running on late for a small piece. Interest goes up with the price. Something in the 20s would feel better.
#5 ENGLISH CONQUEROR is a recent maiden graduate with loads to find on figures and form. He does look suited for this on pedigree, and being by English Channel, his chances will improve with cut in the ground. But, still would be hard to endorse unless 25-1 or higher.
#6 GLORIOUS TRIBUTE is another big longshot. He’s exposed, eligible for a first-level allowance, and has questions regarding both surface and distance. I can’t see it.
#7 DEVIANT was well held by Glorious Deviant last time in his first start as a gelding for the powerhouse Casse barn. His two wins came on turf, but going much shorter. He’s got a touch of back class and recent workouts have been better, and he may be warming to his life as a racehorse, but I struggle to see him finding the needed improvement. I do think he can reverse form with the rival to his inside, and there could be a tempting price at which I might revisit him but it’s a big number – 30-1 or higher.
#8 MIGHTY HEART, the one-eyed wonder, is a very cool horse and even hardened horseplayers such as myself have to respect what he’s accomplished. I’ve been against him the last two tries - including at Fort Erie last time (video below) - and this seems like a strange time to jump on his bandwagon, as I don’t particularly like his pedigree for the added ground or turf. He’s consistent, versatile, and classy, and on that basis he’s probably the most likely winner. But I would rather lay than back at even money – accepting the fact he may push my face in the sand once again.
#9 BELICHICK was our longshot play for underneath in the Queen’s Plate (video below) and he obliged at big odds. He’s been rested since and continues to work forwardly. Of all the runners in this field, he’s the one with the best pedigree for today’s task. Lemon Drop Kid (by Kingmambo) is a fantastic turf sire and is out of a Montjeu mare. Still just a maiden, this might be the rare case where I end up keen to back a horse who hasn’t won in a stake that isn’t for two-year-olds. Adding to the appeal, the race should be run to suit his closing kick. I think 7-2 on the morning line would be more than fair, and I’m hoping we can do better with the bookies.
#10 KUNAL comes to this on a solid run of form, but those races were against much weaker rivals. Distance could be his friend with that blood, but I think class finds him out. Backers should get a brief thrill with his early speed but there’s other, better speed.
#11 TOLD IT ALL has the best pace figures of the bunch and goes out for wonder trainer Norm McKnight. I’m hoping he and his rival to the inside dead send to set things up for Belichick. Based on pedigree, I would be very surprised if this one sees out the trip, but if any trainer at Woodbine can get him to do it, it would be McKnight. Still siding against.
#12 MUSKOKA GIANT has some talent and is the other in the field in addition to Belichick I am confident will appreciate today’s task – by Curlin out of a Giant’s Causeway dam. He’s also got the right running style. Yes, he’s eligible for a first-level allowance but I suppose that’s not a big deal in a race where I’m tipping a maiden. Probably not fast enough to win, but interesting to come running for a slice at a price, a la the tip in the Queen’s Plate. Odds should be 20-1 or higher.
VERDICT: I know it will be a little strange if Josie Carroll spoils her own Triple Crown bid with her other horse, but that’s what I see happening – and they’ve got different ownership, so it makes perfect sense she has to enter both. BELICHICK is getting better all the time, and appears more suited to this test than Mighty Heart, especially with the projected fast pace. I am hoping his maiden status builds a little equity into his price.Follow @loomsboldly