12/17/2016 7:40PM

Heart to Heart draws blood in El Prado victory

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Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Heart to Heart won his fourth victory in seven starts in the El Prado on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A little blood was spilled at the start, but in the end it proved well worth it for the connections of Heart to Heart, who overcame a bit of an eventful beginning to prove a popular winner of Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado at Gulfstream Park.

Heart to Heart threw his head, striking Julien Leparoux and bloodying his nose in the process, at the start of the 7 1/2-furlong El Prado. Fortunately, both horse and rider were able to recover in time to assume their favorite position on the front end in the run to the clubhouse turn. Heart to Heart then proceeded  to do his thing, leading throughout before holding safe a late surge from Flatlined to register a popular neck victory, ringing down the curtain on a highly successful 2016 campaign. Songsational finished third.

The victory was the fourth in seven starts this season for the son of English Channel; three came locally, including both the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale and Grade 3 Canadian Turf last winter. Trained by Brian Lynch for owner Terry Hamilton, Heart to Heart covered the distance over a firm course in 1:30.03 and paid $3.60.

“Julien said he threw his head up right when they sprung the latch and butted him in the nose,” Lynch said. “Julien had a bit of blood on his nose when he pulled up, where you could see he got a bit of a whack. That’s a first for him, because he usually leaves there running. I was a little concerned going into the first turn because you always like to see him shake loose there. But when he came out of the turn with a length on them, and sort of got his ears twitching down the backside, you knew he was comfortable.”

Lynch said he’ll consider the Ft. Lauderdale and Canadian again this winter, with the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland his “ultimate goal” in the spring.

Neck of the Moon wins South Beach

Neck of the Moon circled the leaders into the stretch, then held off Sandiva and an unlucky Excilly to register a neck victory in the $100,000 South Beach for fillies and mares on the turf.

The win was the first this season for Neck of the Moon, a New York-bred daughter of More Than Ready. She was ridden to victory by Paco Lopez for trainer Chad Brown and her owners, the Hidden Brook Farm. She paid $14.20.

“She’s been a very consistent horse, she’s just been unlucky in her trips,” Brown said. “She’s been stuck inside a few times and hasn’t been able to get through and showed us a little intimidation. I told Paco if he could get her outside, it might work out well for us, and he executed the plan perfectly. He deserves a lot of the credit.”