Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes winner Mighty Heart will meet up with stablemate and Breeders’ Stakes victor Belichick in the CA$125,000 Ontario Derby (G3), set for 1 1/8 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta.

After Mighty Heart took the first two legs of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, Belichick turned the tables on the bay colt in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Stakes Oct. 24, putting an end to Mighty Heart’s quest to become the country’s first horse to sweep all three races since Wando in 2003.

The Ontario Derby, for 3-year-olds, will mark the first race for both since the Breeders’ Stakes.

Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll is looking forward to seeing them back in action.

“I couldn’t be happier with how they both came out of that last race and how they are coming into this one. They’re doing really, really well,” Carroll said.

Owned by NK Racing and LNJ Foxwoods, Belichick is 1-2-1 from four starts.

The son of Lemon Drop Kid  who was unraced at 2 finished third in his debut July 4, following it up with a runner-up performance Aug. 1. After his second-place finish in the Plate, Belichick broke his maiden in style, taking the Breeders’ Stakes by four lengths.

“Turning for home, I was just in hand all the way to the quarter pole, and I asked him to run from the stretch home and he did,” jockey Luis Contreras said. “I was just watching, just feeling my horse at the same time. And he was doing great the whole way. He came into this race very ready. Good thing for Josie and all the crew.”

Carroll is hoping for a similar performance in the Ontario Derby.

“It might be a little short for him, but he’s just continuing to get better and better with each race. Obviously, it was a tremendous effort in the Breeders’. It was very impressive,” Carroll said.

One-eyed Mighty Heart will look to rebound off his seventh-place effort in the Breeders’ Stakes.

Bred and owned by Larry Cordes, Mighty Heart, a son of Dramedy, was at the top of his game in taking the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Sept. 12 and the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Sept. 29.

Carroll expects a strong effort from the Ontario-bred, who will have Rafael Hernandez in the irons.

“He’s a horse that just tries every time he runs. He’ll give you his all every race,” Carroll said.

Mark Casse will be represented by Deviant, who was fourth in the Breeders’ Stakes, and Lucky Curlin, who has two runner-up stakes results to his name.

Casse is happy to have the Ontario Derby contested at this point in the season.

“This is the time of the year when you’re trying to run against straight 3-year-olds. I think it’s extremely smart that Woodbine moved this race back. I think it gives the 3-year-olds one more chance—the horses that ran in the Queen’s Plate and those types of races. It gives them one more shot to race against their own age group, which I think is a good thing. That was a great move by Woodbine.”

Field Pass, Mnemba Island, Dune of Pilat, and Malibu Mambo complete the field.

Entries: Ontario Derby (G3)

Woodbine, Saturday, November 21, 2020, Race 8

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/8m
  • All Weather Track
  • $125,000
  • 3 yo
  • 4:58 PM (local)


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