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One-Eyed Mighty Heart Takes Aim at Canada’s Triple Crown

There was no Triple Crown at stake in The Preakness when the American series wound up this year. However, one will be on the line Saturday North of the Border. This also is one of the best sports stories of 2020.

Mighty Heart is aptly named. The 3-year-old colt has one eye and will have it on the prize at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack for the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race. The son of Dramedy is the even-money morning line favorite from post eight in the field of 12,

Mighty Heart
Patrick Smith / GETTY IMAGES

“It’s a great story because everyone loves an underdog,” Woodbine exec Jim Lawson told the Toronto Star. “And when you say underdog, here’s a horse with one eye that’s owned by someone (Larry Cordes) who bred the horse himself and is a very down-to-earth guy.

Get in on all the action from the Breeders’ Stakes at BetUs.

Lost Eye at Young Age

Mighty Heart lost the eye as a foal in a paddock accident with his mother. At first, it seemed like it would be a negative for his racing career.

“When the dirt hit him in the face, he headed for the outside fence,” Carroll told the Toronto Sun. “We did a lot of breezing in behind other horses to get him used to it and he started to handle it well. “We also added a blinker that covered his blind socket.”

Winning the Canadian Triple Crown is no easy feat because not only do all three races vary in length, they’re also run on different surfaces. The Queen’s Plate is contested over a synthetic Tapeta course. The Prince Of Wales Stakes is run at 1 3/16 miles on dirt. The Breeders’ Stakes will be raced on a 1½-mile turf course.

Mighty Heart’s sire, Dramedy, won the 2015 Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes on the grass at Keeneland, so he has turf ability in his breeding.

His sire was essentially a turf horse,” Lawson told the Star. “Most horses take the turf and it doesn’t look like the distance will be an issue with the way he ran (Tuesday).

“Listen, we could have a Triple Crown winner on our hands and it’s really fun for racing and good for racing to promote a star. We need stars, we all want stars in sports and I think this could be racing’s time to shine.”

The victory in the prestigious, $1,000,000 Queen’s Plate was unexpected as Mighty Heart went off at 13-1 … with he No. 13 saddlecloth. Who said it was an unlucky number?

Mighty Heart’s winning time in the Queen’s Plate, under jockey Daisuke Fukumoto, was 2:01.98, the second-fastest since 1957 when the race was first run at the new Woodbine over its current 1 1/4-mile distance. He followed17 days later with a smooth victory in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

“Today was really special,” trainer Josie Carroll told the Toronto Sun following Mighty Heart’s score. “This little horse really proved that he’s not just a one-dimensional horse. He was in traffic, he handled that all well. He really proved himself. It was really exciting.”

That brings us to Saturday and Woodbine, where Mighty Heart looks to become the first horse since Wando in 2003 to win the Canadian Triple Crown. Mighty Heart will come in with three victories and a third-place finish in six career starts, all coming this year, for $688,003 in earnings.

“I think it certainly has lifted everybody at the barn up to have a horse that’s this much fun,” Carroll told America’s Best Racing. “He has come a long way, particularly from last year when this horse was timid to even walk on the wash bay because it was something new.

“He has grown tremendously in confidence with every race. Maybe that’s what I’m seeing about this horse, a tremendous change in his confidence.”

Belichick, who finished a strong second in the Queen’s Plate and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, will look to turn the tables on his stablemate.

“I’m not surprised to have him in this position. It’s also very rewarding to train a horse of his caliber,” trainer Carroll said.

One thing is sure, neither Belichick, the horse, nor Belichick, the coach, will be satisfied with anything less than a victory this weekend.

You can get in on all the action on Mighty Heart and all the races at Woodbine at the BetUS racebook.

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