Daisuke Fukumoto and Mighty Heart ran away with the $1-million Queen’s Plate on Saturday.
Fukumoto took his one-eyed mount to the lead from the start, then surged to a stunning 7 1/2-length triumph in the opening leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown at Woodbine Racetrack. Mighty Heart, a 13/1 longshot, lost an eye in a paddock accident with his mother as a foal.
His winning time of 2:01.98 was the second-fastest since 1957 when the Plate was first run at the new Woodbine at its current distance. That effort was second only to Izvestia (2:01 4/5 in 1990).
But Fukumoto, who hit the winner’s circle in his first-ever appearance in this race, said going to the lead from the start wasn’t his original plan.
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“He was very sharp so I just let him go,” Fukumoto said. ” I tried to calm (him) a little bit but after the wire he kept going, he didn’t stop there.
“He knew [it was] a big race, that’s why he was sharp. I am lucky. He only has one eye but he’s got a big heart, a mighty heart.”
Fukumoto secured trainer Josie Carroll a third career Queen’s Plate victory.
Carroll also took second with Belichick, who concluded ahead of Plate Trial winner Clayton, the 3/1 second choice.
Mighty Heart recorded his second triumph in five career starts — all this year. The $600,000 winner’s share was almost six times as much as he’d won ($53,220) prior to Saturday’s event.
But it was a definitely a most unusual Plate.
The race was initially scheduled to be run June 27 but was rearranged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was run without fans in the stands.
Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, was in attendance and presented the Queen’s Plate trophy to Mighty Heart’s connections afterwards. Queen Elizabeth II is patron of the Plate but last attended in 2010.
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