Photo: Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire
Two multiple Grade 1 winners arrived at Saratoga to trainer Brian Lynch’s barn, with their conditioner saying morning that Oscar Performance and Heart to Heart have settled in nicely and are slated to return to the worktab this weekend, weather permitting.
“Everybody shipped in well and we have some turf works scheduled for ; it looks like some pretty solid races coming up,” Lynch said.
Oscar Performance returned from a seven-month layoff to win the Grade 3 Poker on at Belmont Park, setting a track record for one mile on the turf in 1:31.23 to best a field of eight by 1 ½ lengths. Lynch said the 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt, who was making his first start since running ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on at Del Mar, is targeting the Grade 1 Arlington Million on at Arlington Park.
“Using his last race as a gauge to see where he’s at, he seems like he’s in good order,” Lynch said. “I worked him with Heart to Heart the last time at Belmont on the turf. Heart to Heart had four or five lengths on him at the quarter pole, and if you said to me that he was going to be head-to-head with him at the wire, I’d say no way, but he joined him, so I tell you, he’s doing really well.”
Oscar Performance registered three straight graded stakes wins in 2017, capturing the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and Arlington’s Grade 1 Secretariat. He returned to Belmont in the fall to face older horses, finishing third in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, his final race before the Breeders’ Cup.
Heart to Heart is on target to run in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on at the Spa. Lynch said both of his barn’s superstars have handled the ship upstate with aplomb.
“They both have the right constitution to handle it, they do any transition with class,” Lynch said.
Heart to Heart has already recorded a pair of Grade 1 wins in his 7-year-old campaign, edging Kurilov by a neck in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on and following with a 1 ¾-length score over Ballagh Rocks in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile on at Keeneland.
Last out, the Ontario-bred son of English Channel finished a neck behind Hunt in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on at Santa Anita, nearly earning his third straight Grade 1 victory. Lynch will now be seeking his second Fourstardave win after notching the 2015 edition with Grand Arch.