Horses

Best 3-year-old turf horse? Catch a Glimpse of this filly

Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, seen here winning the Grade III Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 14, 2016, seeks her ninth consecutive win in Sunday’s Grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, seen here winning the Grade III Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 14, 2016, seeks her ninth consecutive win in Sunday’s Grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Mark Casse is a spoiled man in spoiled times.

The Canadian Hall of Fame trainer can look down his shedrow and see a pretty chestnut daughter of City Zip who has never lost on the turf, who has dominated her own gender and schooled male rivals along the way, who already has multiple Grade I wins and a Breeders’ Cup triumph on her résumé.

If she stays on form, there is a strong chance reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse will not taste defeat for the remainder of 2016. Because of the form of those around her, there is an equally stout chance she could conclude a perfect campaign without a piece of Eclipse Award hardware to show for it.

These are special days in the Thoroughbred racing industry with fans being treated to multiple champions threatening to go down as all-timers within their ranks. While her 5-for-5 record this season heading into Sunday’s Grade II, $300,000 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga has made Catch a Glimpse arguably the best sophomore turf runner of either sex in North America, she is not even the top grass distaffer in her barn — with that distinction going to reigning champion turf female, Tepin — and the filly considered the best 3-year-old bar none is the undefeated champion Songbird, who will aim to flaunt her greatness again in Saturday’s Grade I, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

Barring massive setbacks from Tepin and Songbird, Catch a Glimpse’s connections might have to settle for the satisfaction of knowing she is an exceptional gift in exceptional company once the year-end ballots are filled out. And there are worse things than watching a temperamental talent continue to harness her ability as Catch a Glimpse did July 9 in the Grade I, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational when she beat an international field for her eighth consecutive victory.

“You know what, she amazes me. She seems to just be getting better and better,” Casse said of Catch a Glimpse. “She seems like she’s really on her game right now. And you know what I’ve said all along — take nothing away from Songbird or any of those horses — but Catch a Glimpse and Tepin have beaten international fields. They’re not just beating the best in the U.S. but they’re beating anyone who comes in to try them, too. We’re just happy to have them both.”

It takes some outstanding efforts for a 3-year-old turf filly to even put herself in a discussion of the nation’s best horses, as Catch a Glimpse has done. Her lone defeat in nine starts came when she made her career debut on the dirt at Saratoga last July and her versatility is such that she has won at distances from 7 furlongs to 1¼ miles.

She can be quirky and headstrong and has a tendency to get “bored,” according to regular rider Florent Geroux, when she finds herself cruising along on the lead late in a race. That Geroux lets Catch a Glimpse be herself rather than make her conform has gone a long way toward helping her relax and carry her natural speed.

And as impressive as her victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Grade III Herecomesthebride, Appalachian and Edgewood Stakes were on their own merit, consider the fact that recent Grade I Secretariat Stakes winner Beach Patrol was a soundly beaten sixth behind Catch a Glimpse when the latter dusted male foes in the Grade III Penn Mile Stakes at Penn National on June 4.

I’ve been happy to read recently that now they’re calling her the ‘brilliant’ Catch a Glimpse. It went for a long time that I didn’t think she got her dues, but it seems to be … I don’t think there is any doubt now who the best 3-year-old turf horse, colt or filly, in North America is.

Mark Casse

“I’ve been happy to read recently that now they’re calling her the ‘brilliant’ Catch a Glimpse,” Casse said. “It went for a long time that I didn’t think she got her dues, but it seems to be … I don’t think there is any doubt now who the best 3-year-old turf horse, colt or filly, in North America is.”

The fact Catch a Glimpse was able to prevail in the 1¼-mile Belmont Oaks was a huge sigh of relief for her connections. With Tepin being pointed toward a title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park this November, Catch a Glimpse’s ability to get 10 furlongs means she can avoid clashing with her stablemate and target the Filly & Mare Turf instead.

This weekend’s slate of racing is one few could dream up with Songbird expected to dominate the Alabama and champions Beholder and California Chrome set to face off Saturday against the likes of Grade I winner Dortmund in what is being hailed as the best-ever edition of the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Owned by Gary Barber, Michael Ambler and Windways Farm, Catch a Glimpse is used to having to fight for the spotlight. And should the divisional queens stumble, there is a princess at the ready to ascend.

“She’s doing as good as I’ve ever seen her do,” said Norman Casse, son and top assistant to his father. “She seems to really be thriving right now.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: 859-231-1676, @horseracinghl

Sunday

Lake Placid Stakes

What: Grade II race for 3-year-old fillies

When: Sunday

Where: Saratoga Race Course

Distance: 1 1/8 miles (turf)

Purse: $300,000

TV: TVG

Streaking

Catch a Glimpse: Eight first-place finishes in a row, dating to Aug. 22, 2015, including two Grade I wins.

Songbird: Nine career wins, nine career victories, dating to July 26, 2015, including five Grade I wins.

Tepin: Seven wins in a row dating to Oct. 3, 2015. Streak includes four Grade/Group I wins.

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