Former Coolmore shuttler Lion Heart is back in the news with his star colt Kantharos tipped to be a leading candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs this year.
Kantharos scored a sensational victory in the G2 Saratoga Special last Sunday. He was bumped by Bail Out The Cat leaving the gates but pulled away by seven lengths on a muddy Saratoga surface. It stretched his unbeaten record to three after a prior pair of wide-margin wins at Churchill Downs.
Kantharos is prepared by champion trainer Steve Asmussen and races in the Jess Jackson silks made famous by Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. “He really looked good and smooth,” Asmussen said. “What he’s done is very impressive but we want to be greedy and get a little bit more.”
Lion Heart was sold to the Jockey Club of Turkey, as part of a three stallion package, by Coolmore earlier this year. International sires Dehere and Powerscourt were part of the deal.
Lion Heart had been popular since retiring to stud five years ago. He is a son of Tale Of The Cat and was a G1 winner of the Hollywood Futurity and Haskell Invitational.
His first USA crop included the G2 winners Azul Leon (Del Mar) and Soul Warrior (Mountaineer Pk). He also made an encouraging start with his first Australian bred crop which was headed by Brisbane stakes winner Double Heart.
Kantharos covered the 1300m of the prestigious Saratoga Special in 1.18.63s under Garrett Gomez who deputised for the injured Robby Albarado. “He wasn’t on the bridle for the first 50 yards,” Gomez said. “I just let him build and let him show me the way.”
Kantharos is the third stakes winner for winning Southern Halo mare Contessa Halo. She is also the dam of Gulfstream Park G3 winner Ikigai (Whywhywhy) and Listed Del Mar winner Bonifacio (Even the Score).