Heart to Heart has a heart-shaped star on his forehead.
No one in the Better Talk Now Stakes was in a position to see it once the gate opened at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday.
The son of English Channel jumped to the lead right away, cut the corners beautifully and wired the field to win the $100,000 feature over a mile on the inner turf for Woodbine-based trainer Brian Lynch.
Lynch’s other good turf miler, Grand Arch, suffered a tough loss in the Fourstardave on Aug. 9 when he lost by a neck to Seek Again, but Lynch came right back with Heart to Heart, who enjoyed the cutback to his favorite distance.
“I think he really runs the turns well,” said the Australian. “That’s one of his assets, and he really loves two-turn racing. The mile and an eighth at Woodbine the other day, with the big, long stretch, it was a little soft, but he fit it here today.”
Heart to Heart won by 61⁄4 lengths going a mile at Keeneland five starts back, then got on the Queen’s Plate trail and finished eighth to the filly Lexi Lou as a 31-1 long shot.
Lynch got him back on the grass at a mile and an eighth in the Toronto Cup, where he was a close third.
That appeared to set him up perfectly for the Better Talk Now, and he had the added benefit of Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle.
Velazquez said Heart to Heart got a little rank on the backstretch, and instead of trying to hold him back, he let the colt do his thing.
Heart to Heart, who was 1-1 on the morning line but went off at just under 4-1, was never threatened in the stretch and kicked away to win by three lengths over Los Borrachos.
“We talked about it. Let him bounce out of there, see if anybody wants to take the lead, and if nobody does, just go ahead and take it,” Velazquez said. “That’s the way it worked out. He was rolling the whole way around.
“I was trying to get a little hold of him on the backstretch, and he started to throw his head up, so I had to ease up from his mouth and let him go at his own pace. When I asked him down the lane, he responded.”
“He surprises you how he scoots away from them, and when he does that, he gets his confidence,” Lynch said. “I’m absolutely thrilled with the way he ran.”
Lynch is a sparkling 2-2-1 from six horses he’s run at the meet, and is looking forward to getting Clearly Now in the Grade I Forego on Aug. 30.
He’s coming off a win in the Grade III Belmont Sprint Championship.
Bayern, 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Travers, arrived at Saratoga Race Course from California around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Bayern and multiple graded stakes-winning filly Fiftyshadesofhay, running in Friday’s Personal Ensign, walked the courtyard of trainer John Terranova’s barn following the trip from California.
“It was very good, an easy ship,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. “That’s one good thing about this horse; he’s a good traveler. It doesn’t seem to faze him.”
Today’s feature is the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares at 61⁄2 fulongs on the main track.
It appears to be a matchup between 7-5 favorite Risky Rachel, who hasn’t won since February, and 8-5 Sunny Desert, who has raced just once since April 2013, and that was in March.
Risky Rachel is coming off a second to Willet in an allowance on July 20.
Sunny Desert was third to La Verdad and Hot Rendesvous in the Broadway at
Aqueduct on March 29.