(Jockey Julien Leparoux will ride Heart to Heart in the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile on Friday / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

It is never too late to get your Stakes on. At the ripe age of 7, Heart to Heart captured his first — as in ever — Grade 1 Stakes when he won the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 10. Now, this coming Friday, the “old man” will try to make it two Grade 1s in a row when he takes on a field of nine other challengers in the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland.

Trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Heart to Heart will break from post position #6, and has been installed as the 2-1 Morning Line favorite in the 1-mile turf classic.

“It’s a very competitive field,” Lynch said. “But he’s training very well going into it, so we’re quietly confident.”

From the rail out, the field will include:

  1. Nileator, trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Robby Albarado — 30-1 odds
  2. Ballagh Rocks, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Luis Saez — 9-2 odds
  3. Forge, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario — 8-1 odds
  4. Tower of Texas, trained by Roger Attfield and ridden by Jose Lezcano — 12-1 odds
  5. Frostmourne, trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Iran Ortiz, Jr. — 10-1 odds
  6. Heart to Heart, trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Julie Leparoux — 2-1 odds
  7. Mr. Misunderstood, trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux — 12-1 odds
  8. Next Shares, trained by Richard Baltas and ridden by Corey Nakatani — 5-1 odds
  9. Om, trained by Dan Hendricks and ridden by Flavien Prat — 6-1 odds
  10. Holy, trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Jose Ortiz — 8-1 odds

Going into Friday’s major grass event, Heart to Heart has raced a total of 34 times. He has won 14 times, with 5 seconds and 3 thirds and has amassed a grand total of over $1.73 million in purse earnings. And, most of his success has been done and achieved with one racing style:

Front-end speed.

And, undoubtedly, given a clean break, Leparoux and Heart to Heart will set sail for the lead as soon as the gate pops open for one of the meet’s top Stakes events. And, he has had some success over this track’s sod before.

“We space his races and he tells us when he’s ready and when he’s not,” Lynch said. “He’s been a lovely, sound horse throughout his career, so we’ve been blessed with that. He’s just a horse that with racing and time and maturity seems to have gotten better and better.”

Lynch describes Heart to Heart as a “cool sitter and a go-getter,” referring to the horse’s calm and collected nature and consistent talent on the race track.

“He doesn’t worry a bit. He (doesn’t really act like a) colt,” the trainer said. “For a full horse, he’s a very kind horse to be around. He’s very unassuming; you wouldn’t even know he’s in the barn.”

Last Fall, Heart to Heart ran second in the Shadwell Turf Mile here, running second to Suedois — who went on to win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Last Spring, Heart to Heart ran a game second to American Patriot, losing by only a neck.

And, in 2016, Heart to Heart ran second to Miss Temple City in the Maker’s Mark Mile, losing by 11/4 lengths.

The only time that Heart to Heart did not hit the board over the Keeneland grass course came in the 2015 Shadwell Turf Mile, when he was a distant 10th.

Yet, before that he won an allowance race here in 2014 and was a third in an allowance here in 2013.

This will mark the 5th year in a row that he’s raced at Keeneland.

Lynch said at this point in Heart to Heart’s career, retirement does not appear immenent.

“While he’s still happy and sound and competitive at that level,” he said, “we’ll continue to race him.”

Arriving at Keeneland Tuesday for the Maker’s 46 Mile was Green Lantern Stables’ homebred Frostmourne for trainer Christophe Clement.

A two-time graded stakes winner in 2017, Frostmourne was given time off following a fourth-place finish in the Hill Prince (G3) in October at Belmont Park. He resurfaced with an allowance win at Gulfstream Park on March 16.

“It is great to have them come back the right way,” Clement said of the victory going a mile. “He settled nicely and got a great ride from Irad (Ortiz Jr.). The timing was just right for this race.”