07/10/2016 10:07AM

Watchmaker: Catch a Glimpse was highlight of Stars and Stripes Festival

Barbara D. Livingston
Catch A Glimpse made the Belmont Oaks her eighth straight victory.

For my money, and I would guess I have a lot of company on this, the star of Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Festival program at Belmont Park was Catch a Glimpse. That says a lot about Catch a Glimpse, and her victory in the Belmont Oaks, because there were six graded stakes on this card for horses to shine.

Catch a Glimpse made the Belmont Oaks her eighth straight victory, all on turf after a loss in the slop in her debut, making all the running in her first attempt at 1 1/4 miles after previously never having raced beyond 1 1/16 miles. But the most impressive aspect to Catch a Glimpse’s win Saturday was how favorably it compared to performances from males earlier on the card.

Of course, overshadowing males is not new to Catch a Glimpse. Just last month, Catch a Glimpse led males a merry chase in the Penn Mile. Now, it must be said that Catch a Glimpse was handed an easy, uncontested early lead in the Penn Mile when other pace horses declined, for whatever reason, to go. And to the shock of no one, she made the Penn Mile field pay for such an egregious miscalculation.

But the Belmont Oaks was different. There was absolutely nothing cheap about Catch a Glimpse’s score.

[As an aside, I’m about to make a comparison of fractional and final times of some turf races at Belmont. I can already hear some of you laughing, and that is because there have been issues with times and fractions this meet at Belmont, sometimes on dirt, but primarily on turf. These timing issues, I should note, are apparently not just restricted to Belmont Park. In any event, you can’t entirely trust the times you see, an absurdity in 2016 in a sport that handles $10 billion annually. But I’m going to go with the times published in the official result charts in the examples presented below, because you have to lean on something, and these times did not seem out of line.]

There were three races on the inner turf course at Belmont on Saturday – the Belmont Oaks, the Belmont Derby, and a solid straight maiden event for males – and all were run at 1 1/4 miles, affording a rare opportunity to make direct apples-to-apples comparisons. Even better, weather was not a factor, and the paces in these three inner turf races were all comparable. Not one pace was so much slower than the others as to negatively impact the final time, making final time comparisons even more reliable. Here is what we got in these three races, in the order they were run:
- Revved Up, winner of that solid maiden race, went in 2:01.42 after early race fractions of 25.09, 50.08, and 1:14.54.
- Deauville, winner of the Belmont Derby, went in 2:00.51 after early splits of 24.41, 50.20, and 1:14.20.
- Catch a Glimpse went in 1:59.87 after early fractions of 24.28, 49.36, and 1:13.87.

This really helps to appreciate Catch a Glimpse’s performance. She ran slightly harder early than Deauville and Revved Up, both of whom had pace-pressing trips. Yet she still ran faster than those males to the finish, all while turning back another terrific filly in Time and Motion, who was on a win streak of her own.

I admit I had grown a bit skeptical of Catch a Glimpse. I loved her first race this year in the Herecomesthebride and said so here, comparing the turn of foot she showed that day to none other than her barnmate Tepin. I was less taken with her three subsequent victories. But Catch a Glimpse’s win on Saturday? Yeah. That was something.

Saturday notes:

* Deauville was dead game prevailing in the Belmont Derby over a fast closing Highland Sky, with Beach Patrol, victim of a ridiculously bad trip, a good third. Still, our 3-year-old turf males are not as inspiring as their female counterparts, at least at this point.

* The rail on Belmont’s main track Saturday was not the place to be, and it unfortunately affected some of the main track stakes.

In the Suburban, Mike Smith deftly steered Effinex to the outside very early, and that made a big difference as Effinex, who rarely wins by much, prevailed by just a neck. Runner-up Samraat wasn’t smack on the rail all the way, but he was closer to it for much of the mile and a quarter than anyone else in the Suburban. Third-place finisher Mubtaahij was making a threatening run into the stretch, then ducked to the inside and lost his momentum.

Economic Model finished second as the favorite in the Dwyer, beaten a little more than a length by Fish Trappe Road. But Fish Trappe Road was out in the track much of the way, while Economic Model drove up the rail into the stretch. Under the circumstances, it is to Economic Model’s credit he ran as well as he did.

* The only bias-buster all day was A. P. Indian in the Belmont Sprint Championship, and it actually would be a stretch to call him that. A. P. Indian was well off the rail down the backstretch, went nearer inside to the two path on the turn, and came off the rail again down the stretch. Even then, Marking, who was out in the best footing four to seven wide, almost came back on A. P. Indian.

* It happened on Friday, not Saturday, but Masochistic’s return from injury in an allowance race at Santa Anita absolutely merits a word. Masochistic was most impressive, and immediately becomes a major figure in a sprint division that seems rudderless in the absence of Runhappy.