Like its male counterpart, the Belmont Derby, the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational is typically one of the most intriguing handicapping puzzles of the summer. However, this year’s edition looks much more straightforward. This race features three headline attractions—Catch a Glimpse, Time and Motion, and Ballydoyle—who, as a unit, overshadow the much larger cast of supporting characters.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each of them:
Catch a Glimpse (#12) has done very little wrong in her career, having won all seven of her turf starts after a losing debut on dirt at Saratoga last summer.
She was very good last year, beating a tough field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she’s returned as an even better filly at three. She has consistently shown the ability to successfully rate off horses, which has been a feather in her cap this year, leading to wins in the Herecomesthebride and Appalachian.
With her coming off a career-best 116 speed figure in her Edgewood victory, Mark Casse and company decided to take a shot against colts in the Grade 3 Penn Mile. That day, she was able to use her ample speed to her advantage in an otherwise paceless race, setting a glacial early clip (note the blue color-coding) before spurting away from her male rivals in the stretch. That turn of foot has been her greatest asset, but it remains to be seen whether it will be such a lethal weapon at this 10-furlong distance.
Without any other confirmed frontrunners in the lineup, the Pace Projector places her on a clear early lead. Assuming that the pace is legitimate and she gets a stern test of stamina, we think this is the time to take a shot against her at a very short price. There are other fillies of great quality in this race, and we believe this daughter of City Zip is going to prove vulnerable at this distance.
Among the American challengers, Time and Motion (#4) is the chief threat to the favorite.
This impeccably bred daughter of Tapit took a few starts to figure the game out, but has been nothing short of perfect since returning as a three-year-old. Jimmy Toner knows how to handle a talented turf horse, having campaigned a slew of Grade 1-caliber runners for these connections over the years, including the namesakes of the last two stakes races that Time and Motion has won in the lead-up to this Belmont Oaks.
Although she was a plodder as a juvenile, John Velazquez has been able to put her in the game earlier in her races as a three-year-old. She displayed strong finishing kicks in both the Memories of Silver and Wonder Again, and one gets the feeling that there’s still more in the tank. Unlike her rival Catch a Glimpse, she would appear to be well-suited to this stretch-out to 10 furlongs. Of the American contingent, she is far and away the one that we prefer.
Unfortunately, the Americans may be up against a monster in the making from Europe.
Ballydoyle (#7) is a legitimate Group 1 performer in Europe. If not for her superstar stablemate Minding, Ballydoyle would have won three straight Group 1 races prior to her last start.
Our Timeform foreign correspondents had this to say about her after her win in last fall’s Prix Marcel Boussac: “She remains with potential (much more scopey sort than her sister [Misty for Me]) and will stay 1 1/4 miles, though not necessarily any further.” Then, after her second in the 1,000 Guineas: She “kept on well, finished with running left; as long as she keeps away from the winner, she can gain compensation soon.” Finally, following her somewhat disappointing loss in the Prix de Diane last time, it was noted that she was against the flow of that race, being taken too far back early, and is “worth another try at around 1 1/4 miles.”
While we admit that we have an affinity for Time and Motion, even we cannot deny that she’ll be hard-pressed to beat this talented daughter of Galileo. Aiden O’Brien has had plenty of success making this trip over the years. He gets a 100 trainer rating with runners getting Lasix for the first time and a 99 rating with overseas shippers. Ballydoyle deserves to be a strong favorite in this spot, and we’re not trying to beat her.
As far as the others are concerned, most have their work cut out for them.
Decked Out (#2) has run some strong speed figures in California this year, but she’s also gotten some favorable pace setups in those races and is stepping up in class. Noble Beauty (#5) is more inexperienced than most, but she’s come to hand nicely for Chad Brown and made a decent late run into a moderate pace last time. Harmonize (#6) has run well behind Catch a Glimpse and Time and Motion in two straight races, but we’re not convinced that 10 furlongs will really suit her. Land Over Sea (#10) has plenty of class and has come a long way since she won her only turf start in July of her two-year-old season. She’s going to be a price here, but she’s not totally out of it.
The other two European shippers don’t possess Ballydoyle’s class, but still merit consideration. Her stablemate Coolmore (#13) drew a tough post position and has struggled with consistency, but her best efforts give her a top-three chance. Magnanime (#11) was beaten only two lengths against Group 1 company in the Prix Saint-Alary, but it might not have been the strongest edition of that race. Nevertheless, she appears to still be improving and is worth inclusion at a price.
Ballydoyle (#7) is the top pick over Time and Motion (#4), though we think the latter has a slight chance to upset.
Win: #7, Ballydoyle, at odds of 5/2 or greater
Trifecta: 7 with 4 with 2,5,6,9,10,11,12,13
Trifecta: 7 with 2,5,6,9,10,11,12,13 with 4
Trifecta: 4 with 7 with 2,5,6,9,10,11,12,13