Catch a Glimpse and Airoforce, both trained by Mark Casse, come into the $500,000 Penn Mile on Saturday evening at Penn National Race Course with their 3-year-old seasons off to very different beginnings.
Catch a Glimpse, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in her 2-year-old finale, is 3 for 3 this year. Airoforce, who closed out his juvenile campaign by winning the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, has been the beaten favorite in all three of his starts this year.
Still, Catch a Glimpse will be stepping outside of her division by taking on males in the Grade 3 Penn Mile. Airoforce, on the other hand, has had unlucky trips in his last two races. The two may be closer in ability than their running lines indicate.
The Penn Mile is the last of four stakes on the biggest card of the year at Penn National. The stakes are carded as races 1-4 because three are on the grass, and the Penn National turf course does not have lights.
The sequence begins with the $200,000 Penn Oaks at 6:05 p.m. Eastern and concludes at 7:40 p.m. with the Penn Mile. The $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup and the $200,000 Mountainview Handicap will be run as races 2 and 3. The entire card will be streamed live on DRF.com.
Casse expects Catch a Glimpse to be on or near the lead in the Penn Mile and wants Airoforce to settle off the pace. Airoforce ended up on the front end in the American Turf under Julien Leparoux last time out and finished fourth.
"I think they will complement each other," Casse said. "Airoforce's best races have been from off the pace. The last time, nobody wanted the lead, so Julien took it. Of course, as soon as he did, [Roger] Attfield's horse hounded him for six furlongs, and then Camelot Kitten and Beach Patrol came after him."
Two starts ago, Airoforce had a difficult trip in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He was bottled up along the rail and steadied several times during the opening six furlongs before weakening to finish eighth.
With Leparoux at Santa Anita on Saturday to ride Heart to Heart in the Shoemaker Mile, Casse has given the mount on Airoforce to Trevor McCarthy.
Casse said he is not concerned about Catch a Glimpse facing males. He does have his fingers crossed that she is in a cooperative mood.
"I'm more concerned about her behaving herself," Casse said. "She can be a handful."
Florent Geroux, aboard for five straight races, has done a nice job of not fighting the headstrong filly while rationing her speed.
"She likes to do her own thing," Geroux said. "She wants to be in charge. My role is to keep her happy."
Catch a Glimpse, by City Zip
Last 3 Beyers: 91-87-87
Her chief pace rival looks to be Giant Run. It is possible that Catch a Glimpse ends up on the lead rather than in a stalking position.
Airoforce, by Colonel John
Last 3 Beyers: 87-72-28
Although he has been disappointing, this could be the race where he puts it all together. He was only beaten 2 3/4 lengths in the American Turf despite being steadied as the top pair went by him in the final furlong.
"I know he was tiring when he had to steady, but I think he would have been third if he hadn't had to," Casse said.
Beach Patrol, by Lemon Drop Kid
Last 3 Beyers: 92-93-85
Has been privately purchased since finishing second, beaten a head by Camelot Kitten, in the American Turf and will debut for trainer Chad Brown. Camelot Kitten, who is entered at Belmont Park on Saturday, also is trained by Brown.
Has tactical speed and should land in a good stalking position. Joel Rosario, who rides, won this race a year ago on Force the Pass.
Unbridled Daddy, by Scat Daddy
Last 3 Beyers: 84-84-66
Was stuck in traffic, then finished well in the Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct, which was a slow-early, fast-late race. Sleeper has a chance here. Javier Castellano rides.
Giant Run, by Giant's Causeway
Last 3 Beyers: 84-86-83
May end up tracking Catch a Glimpse early as he has post 6 in this seven-horse field and she will break from post 4.
Oscar Nominated, by Kitten's Joy
Last 3 Beyers: 55-82-79
Upset the Spiral Stakes on Polytrack at 23-1 for trainer Mike Maker. Returns to turf after finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby.
Silent Waters, by Silent Name
Last 3 Beyers: 85-73-65
Improving runner enters off maiden and allowance turf wins at Laurel Park.