TORONTO, July 1, 2021 – Horse racing fans were back in the stands at Woodbine Racetrack for the first time this season and cheered home Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year Mighty Heart in the $150,000 Dominion Day Stakes (Grade 3) on Thursday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
Jockey Daisuke Fukumoto, who was aboard the popular one-eyed colt when he won the first two-thirds of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown last year, was reunited with the champion for today’s featured Dominion Day contested over 1-1/16 miles on the main track.
Trained by Josie Carroll and owned by Larry Cordes, the millionaire son of Dramedy established the lead out of the gate and crossed to the rail as he headed into the first turn. A pair of Mark Casse-trained graded stakes winners, Lookin to Strike stalked in behind with the favoured March to the Arch just outside pressing the pace.
After a quarter in :25.23 and half-mile in :48.49, the pressure mounted as March to the Arch matched strides with Mighty Heart on the turn while Malibu Mambo rallied three-wide into contention as they passed three-quarters in 1:11.99. However, Mighty Heart fought back and pulled clear of his rivals down the lane to score in 1:43.33.
March to the Arch settled for second, 1-3/4 lengths behind the winner, while Malibu Mambo finished third in front of Lookin to Strike. Skywire, Canada’s 2020 Champion Older Main Track Male, completed the field that was scratched down to just five starters.
“I’m glad to get the opportunity to ride this horse again,” said Fukumoto, who enjoyed a career highlight with Mighty Heart when they won last year’s $1 million Queen’s Plate. “I breezed him a couple times and today I was ready to go, and we did it today.”
Mighty Heart was well prepared for his return to Woodbine, coming off a victory in the Blame Stakes last time out on May 29 at Churchill Downs.
“I thought it [the Blame Stakes] just put him right where I wanted him,” said the four-year-old colt’s Hall of Fame trainer. “In fact, he had two works after that, simply because he came out of it so well, we had to sort of take the high note off of him a little bit four days ago so he could settle in this race.
“I think he’s just a good horse and he’s maturing. We’re pretty happy with him today.”
Mighty Heart now boasts five victories from 11 career starts for Cordes, who relished the moment to witness his homebred star in person and hear the fans trackside.
“It’s quite a difference,” said Cordes from the winner’s circle. “The feeling was much, much better, obviously, and so many fans were behind him.”
Sent postward as the 9-5 slight second choice in the wagering, Mighty Heart paid $5.80 to win.
The scratches were Atone and the Carroll-trained Breeders’ Stakes champion Belichick, whose connections opted for an allowance race on Saturday’s card.
Live Thoroughbred racing resumes at Woodbine Racetrack on Friday. Post time for the eight-race program is set for 4:50 p.m.