Updated on 09/15/2011 12:20PM

Critical Eye splashes home first at 6-5


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Scott Schwartz said that when he nominated Critical Eye to Saturday's $150,000, Sheepshead Bay Handicap he didn't care if the race was run on the turf or not. Of course, Critical Eye's chances were much greater if the race came off the grass.

And thanks to heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning, the Sheepshead Bay was moved to the main track. Critical Eye took full advantage of the surface switch, whipping her five rivals by 7 1/2 lengths at muddy Belmont Park. Playact finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Janet. Just a Ginny and Unbridled Waters completed the order of finish.

Schwartz said Critical Eye did not get anything out of her race in the Shuvee Handicap where she finished fourth in a five-horse field. If Critical Eye was going to make the June 23 Hempstead Handicap, as planned, Schwartz believed she needed another race, regardless of the surface.

"I figured by running her two weeks [from the Hempstead] it would get her sharp and even if it was turf, it would be turf to dirt and I like that," Schwartz said. "Certainly I was happy that it came off . . . it was to her advantage that it came off.'

Under Mike Luzzi, Critical Eye stalked Just a Ginny through fractions of 25.29 seconds, 50.33, 1:15.03, and 1:40.29. Critical Eye forged to the lead leaving the three-eighths pole and repelled a challenge from Playact to cruise home an easy winner.

Critical Eye covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:18.18 over a muddy track and returned $4.70 as the 6-5 favorite.

"She turned off and turned on for me a couple of times during the race," Luzzi said. "I knew I had the lead when I wanted. I said, 'Let's go, let's see if she's got a finish,' and she just kicked.'

It was the first victory for Critical Eye since the Grade 3 Honeybee Handicap at The Meadowlands in September. That win came on the heels of her biggest career score in the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap over this track. Schwartz said he would consider the Hempstead or the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park for her next start.

Because of the surface switch, the Sheepshead Bay was automatically downgraded to a Grade 3, pending a review by the graded stakes committee.