Trainer Josie Carroll had the favorite in Saturday’s $760,633 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, the filly Curlin’s Voyage, but it was her other two entries, longshots Mighty Heart and Belichick, who wound up running one-two in Canada’s most prestigious event.
The Plate actually turned into a one-horse affair in the final furlongs of the mile and a quarter as long-time leader Mighty Heart re-broke when challenged at the top of the stretch and drew off to score handsomely under Daisuke Fukumoto, who was having his first ever ride in the Plate.
A homebred racing for Lawrence Cordes, Mighty Heart has the distinction of having only one eye, reportedly the result of a paddock accident that occurred when he was a foal. Sporting blinkers with a cup over his empty left socket, Mighty Heart broke strongly from post 13 and quickly found his way to the front passing the stands the first time.
Mighty Heart set a brisk-enough pace of :23.57, :47.61, 1:12.70, and 1:37.50 over the Tapeta, a slight concern for a Carroll, who was ultimately reassured about other aspects of her charge’s performance.
“I was concerned for a minute or two with the quick fractions but he looked like he was settling and doing it easily,” said Carroll, who was winning the Plate for the third time. “We knew he’d go all day and he sure did.”
When challenged by Clayton and a four-wide Curlin’s Voyage approaching the quarter pole, Mighty Heart showed that and more by re-establishing his authority in upper stretch. He rumbled to a 7 1/2-length victory and stopped the clock in 2:01.98 over the Tapeta, which Woodbine reported as the second fastest Plate since 1957.
Mighty Heart paid $28.50. Belichick, a maiden making his third career start, rallied for second over Plate Trial winner Clayton. Tecumseh’s War finished fourth and was followed by 5-2 favorite Curlin’s Voyage in fifth.
This was the stakes debut for Mighty Heart, who finished fourth and was placed 10th in his first two starts last winter at Fair Grounds. A 4 1/4-length maiden winner in his first race over the Woodbine main track in July, he was most recently third in a 9-furlong allowance prep on Aug. 1.
Bred in Ontario, Mighty Heart is by Dramedy and out of Emma’s Bullseye, by City Place.
Unplaced in her only prior stakes attempt last December, and just 1-for-4 in allowance company since then, Rideforthecause was understandably ignored by bettors in the $217,019 Canadian Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares.
However, the 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride seems to have a strong fondness for the Woodbine turf as she registered a convincing victory over odds-on favorite Cambier Parc for her fourth win in five tries over the local sod.
Rideforthecause settled some four lengths behind the pace under David Moran, made a four-wide bid into contention entering the long straight, and took the lead from Cambier Parc with more than a furlong to go. She rolled from there to a four-length triumph in a quick time of 1:45 for 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf.
A homebred racing for Sam-Son Farm and trained by Gail Cox, Rideforthecause paid $47.20. Cambier Parc, making her first start since winning the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) last October for Chad Brown, finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of 30-1 chance Court Return for second. Completing the order of finish were Elizabeth Way, Bold Script, Art of Almost, Another Time, and Amalfi Coast.
Bred in Ontario, Rideforthecause was produced by Danceforthecause, by Giant’s Causeway. She counts as her third dam Canadian Triple Crown winner and U.S. Hall of Famer Dance Smartly.