06/02/2016 1:00PM

All systems go for Heart to Heart

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Heart to Heart, training at Keeneland in spring, has speed and the rail for the Shoemaker Mile on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Only a horse bound for Royal Ascot this month has beaten Heart to Heart in 2016.

Heart to Heart won consecutive graded stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park in January and February before finishing second to Miss Temple City in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 15. Miss Temple City is scheduled to start in the $252,000 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot in England on June 15.

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Heart to Heart will try to win the first Grade 1 race of his career in Saturday’s $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf at Santa Anita. Heart to Heart may go favored and certainly will be the horse to watch. The 5-year-old horse is expected to set the pace from an inside post in a solid field of six.

“Hopefully, he can dictate the terms to them,” trainer Brian Lynch said on Thursday. “If he’s left alone, he’ll be dangerous.”

The Shoemaker Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Mile here on Nov. 5 to the winner, provided the horse is nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program.

KEY CONTENDERS

Heart to Heart, by English Channel

Last 3 Beyers: 105-104-104

◗ Owned by Terry Hamilton, Heart to Heart has won seven stakes in his 21-race career. Earlier this year, Heart to Heart led throughout the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at a mile.

◗ In the Maker’s 46 Mile, Heart to Heart led by a half-length for the first half-mile, by a length on the far turn, and finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Miss Temple City. Lynch is quick to point out that Heart to Heart carried 120 pounds, seven more than Miss Temple City.

“He had to give away quite a bit of weight,” he said.

◗ Heart to Heart has won 8 of 14 starts on turf. Earlier in his career, he raced on synthetic surfaces, but he has started exclusively on turf since the summer of 2014.

“Once I got him back to two-turn grass races, he really found his niche,” Lynch said.

Midnight Storm, by Pioneerof the Nile

Last 3 Beyers: 92-96-99

◗ Heart to Heart could face pace pressure from Midnight Storm, who won the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar last November but lost his two subsequent starts, both this year. Midnight Storm was fourth behind What a View in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on a good turf course March 12 and seventh in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 7.

◗ Victor Espinoza rode Midnight Storm in those races, but Rafael Bejarano has the mount Saturday.

“Off the bench, he’s had two legitimate excuses,” trainer Phil D’Amato said. “He might have needed the first race back. He got a soft turf course. He does not like a soft turf course. In his last start, there was a monsoon before the race. He took them to the top of the lane, and Victor wrapped up on him when he knew he couldn’t win. I think third time off the bench, going on a mile and on a turf course he likes, I think conditions are ideal.”

◗ Midnight Storm was second in the 2015 Shoemaker Mile.

Tourist, by Tiznow

Last 3 Beyers: 97-103-95

◗ Tourist won two stakes from the front earlier in his career but has raced from off the pace in his last four starts, all losses.

◗ Tourist won the More than Ready Stakes at Kentucky Downs last September and was third in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October. A 5-year-old trained by Bill Mott, Tourist was third as the 3-1 favorite in the Maker’s 46 Mile and fourth in the Woodford Reserve.

Twentytwentyvision, by Pollard’s Vision

Last 3 Beyers: 98-98-98

◗ Twentytwentyvision was second in the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes on turf April 9 and third in the Grade 3 American Stakes on a wet-fast main track May 6 after a slow start.

“He got away bad the other day, but he didn’t run badly,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I keep waiting for him to win one of these, and hopefully this will be the day.”