Recently named Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse was on her toes in the Keeneland paddock before the running of the $125,000 Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association (gr. IIIT), reared in the post parade, and rolled out under jockey Florent Geroux leading up to the race with an on-the-muscle gallop.
But the 3-year-old City Zip filly had plenty to give in the one-mile Appalachian, and held off the bid of Ava's Kitten to claim her fifth straight victory for trainer Mark Casse. It was her fourth graded score in a row for owners Gary Barber, Michael James Ambler, and Windways Farm, after a season opener in the Feb. 27 Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park and Casse's first Breeders' Cup victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT).
"That's just kind of what she does. She's always been a real flighty filly," assistant trainer Norm Casse said of the pre-race antics. "She's temperamental. That's just how it goes. It's not something we get alarmed with because she's like that all the time. So when you see her do those things, if it was a horse that doesn't normally do it, you'd be a little bit concerned, but I wasn't concerned today."
There was a moment of concern for Catch a Glimpse's connections at the top of the lane with Ava's Kitten looming, as the eventual winner took over from third after stalking the pace set by Recognition and wound up clear.
"(Geroux) said as soon as she made the lead she started looking around—started pulling herself up," Casse said. "But as that horse got closer to her, she kept kicking away, and that's kind of what she did in the Breeders' Cup. She does what she has to do to win, and those are the best type of horses."
"Sometimes at the end (of a race), she gets a little bit bored," said Geroux. "She does it so easily that sometimes she switches back and forth—left lead, right lead—but I think it's just because she's not really paying attention because no one is really challenging her... When I asked her to go, she gave me a very nice turn of foot."
Catch a Glimpse raced off opening fractions of :23.37, :47.86, and 1:12.88 on a firm turf course. She rolled home through seven-eighths in 1:24.77, and finished in 1:37.27, with Ava's Kitten three-quarters of a length back for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
The win was a special one for David Carroll, who recently ended a longtime public training career to become an assistant for Casse's far-flung program, and saw his first graded stakes win as part of the team.
"I'm rejuvenated. It's an unbelievable team. I think I'm in Disney World, I really do," Carroll said. "She's just a wonderful filly... This was my first time to saddle her and from all accounts she was very good to saddle. In the post parade, when she saw the pony she got a little spooked but that's her. I don't think she's ever going to do anything stupid but it has to be on her terms. And once you do that, she goes on about her business and when she runs, she's pretty special."
The winner paid $3.20, $2.40, and $2.20 as the 3-5 favorite in a field of 10. Ava's Kitten brought $4.80 and $3.40. Outsider Art completed the trifecta, returning $9.20 to show. She was followed by Spinamiss, Auntie Joy, Princess Princess, Felt in Pocket, Dothraki Queen, Baciami Piccola, and Recognition. Miss Katie Mae scratched.
"She hasn't really matured in the paddock and those type of things, but as far as the real body of the race (goes), she's more relaxed, she's more ratable, she can let horses that she doesn't need to chase go and sit back and wait for them to come back to her, and that's going to be a big advantage going forward," Casse said.
The May 6 Edgewood Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs could be an option for Catch a Glimpse's next race. She was bred in Kentucky by Branch Equine out of the Irish River mare Halo River, and was a $75,000 purchase from the Warrendale Sales consignment to the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Owner Ken Ramsey said the Edgewood could also be an option for Ava's Kitten. The Ramseys won their first graded stakes race 21 years ago in the Appalachian with Bail Out Becky, now 19, who still lives at Ramsey Farm near Nicholasville, Ky.