TORONTO, May 26, 2022 – Mighty Heart, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, and Artie’s Storm, set to make his seasonal debut, will meet in the Grade 2 $175,000 Stella Artois Eclipse Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
A 1 1/16-mile main track event for four-year-olds and upwards, the Eclipse has attracted a field of six, a group that includes multiple stakes winners Mighty Heart and Artie’s Storm, multiple graded stakes winner Special Forces, along with 2021 Queen’s Plate and Breeders’ Stakes runner-up Riptide Rock.
Fan favourite, one-eyed Mighty Heart, crowned Canada’s Horse of the Year on April 14 at the 47th annual Sovereign Awards, makes his 2022 Woodbine debut in the Eclipse.
Campaigned by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame conditioner Josie Carroll for owner/breeder Larry Cordes, Mighty Heart took last year’s Grade 2 Autumn Stakes and Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes over the Toronto oval Tapeta, along with the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs on the dirt. The Ontario-bred also ran second in the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3) and concluded his season by heading to Gulfstream Park, where he was third in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes.
This year, Mighty Heart, who took the first two jewels – the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales – of the 2020 Canadian Triple Crown, finished sixth in his five-year-old debut, the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes on April 23 at Keeneland.
“I’m really glad to have him home,” said Carroll. “We didn’t have a great effort at Keeneland, but in retrospect, he wasn’t overly fond of the surface he was training on over the winter, and probably was not as tight as he should have been. I regret maybe running him a little bit, but I really thought he was ready. After the race, he was just very tired. So, we got a couple of really good works into him now, and he’s just tearing the place down. We’re really excited to run him.”
The bay sports a record of 6-2-3 from 17 career starts along with earnings of $1,077,265 (U.S.).
“He’s a horse that very much likes his routine, and now he’s back in his steady, daily… doing what he’s used to doing,” offered Carroll. “He’s an unusual horse that way. The nice thing about him is that he’s versatile. I think we have to leave it a lot to the rider and see how the race plays out. This horse can win on the lead, he can from just off the pace, he can win in between horses – he does like to engage a horse. He’s a bit of a scrapper.”
Trained and owned by Paul Buttigieg, Artie’s Storm, a four-year-old son of We Miss Artie-Tiz Stormy Now, arrives at his latest engagement riding a two-race win streak, including a campaign-concluding victory in the Steady Growth Stakes on December 4. One race earlier, the dark bay, bred in Ontario by Sunrise Farm, notched a half-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Lake Ontario Stakes.
David Moran, who has been aboard for all 10 of the gelding’s starts, once again gets the call.
“He’s doing great,” said Moran. “It’s going to be a tough race, but he’s been training fantastic. He seems to be really happy in himself, really mature and working lights out. He’s amazing right now.”
Moran handed out top marks for the horse who has never been favoured in any of his races.
“This year, he seems so happy. Hopefully, he just continues to step up as he gets older. He’s such a great horse. It’s going to be a big test, two turns, coming off the shelf, but if you were to watch him breeze and train, you’d be pretty impressed. He’s actually very straightforward. He’s very relaxed in a race and he doesn’t use too much energy early on. And then he gives you a great kick. He’s just a lovely horse. He’s really kind, very laid-back. The groom said he is so kind to brush and easy to tack up. Not too much shakes him up.”
Artie’s Storm debuted in October 2020 at the Toronto oval, rallying to finish third, a neck away from taking top spot in the 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race. He broke his maiden next time out, on June 20, in his three-year-old debut, over seven panels on the main track. After a runner-up result in the Queenston Stakes, he was back in the winner’s circle, notching a half-length score in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on July 24.
Sporting a record of 4-2-3 from 10 starts, Artie’s Storm’s lone finish outside of the top three was a fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Stakes, third and final jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown Series.
He’s also a perfect three-for-three at the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse distance.
“From his very first race, I told my agent, ‘Do not lose this horse… he’s a really good one,’” said Moran. “He had one start as a two-year-old, and then he never looked back after that. He won a couple of really nice races at the end of last year and did it impressively. I’m really looking forward to him this year.”
The Eclipse is race seven on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post time is 1:10 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
STELLA ARTOIS ECLIPSE STAKES FIELD
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Special Forces – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard
2 – Frosted Over – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
3 – Mighty Heart – Patrick Husbands – Josie Carroll
4 – Riptide Rock – Rafael Hernandez – Sid Attard
5 – Artie’s Storm – David Moran – Paul Buttigieg
6 – Seventyseven Stone – Omar Moreno – Paul Lepiane
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms