January 31, 2023

Celestine bests Catch a Glimpse; Heart to Heart repeats in Canadian Turf

Celestine beat Catch a Glimpse for the lead and never looked back (Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photography)

Saturday’s $100,000 Sand Springs at Gulfstream Park appeared to be a match race between Grade 1 star Celestine and 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, both making their seasonal reappearances.

Just like a match race, the one who seized the early lead figured to hold the advantage. That’s certainly how Celestine’s jockey, Jose Ortiz, saw it, and he delivered a well-judged ride aboard the eventual winner.

Favored at 3-5 over the year-younger Catch a Glimpse (8-5), Celestine was making her first start since selling to Moyglare Stud for $2.55 million at Keeneland November. The Scat Daddy mare was subsequently transferred to Christophe Clement, who paid tribute to prior trainer Bill Mott.

“She’s a top-class mare,” Clement said. “She came to me in very good condition and trained very well. When you get a five-year-old from Billy Mott you know you’re going to be OK.”

Celestine showed no rust when breaking alertly and getting the upper hand over Catch a Glimpse from the initial strides. Although Catch a Glimpse attended her, Celestine was just galloping through fractions of :23.95 and :48.25 on the firm turf. The pacesetter began to wind it up at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.91, and threw in an :11.20 seventh furlong to sprint away from her pursuer. Celestine tacked on another :11.48 furlong to pull two lengths clear in a final time of 1:34.59 for the mile.

Celestine’s best performances have come over a grassy mile, highlighted by her 3 3/4-length victory in last year’s Just a Game (G1) at Belmont Park and a similarly emphatic score in the Honey Fox (G2) here. She was last seen shortening up and trying males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, where she didn’t do her best down the hill and checked in 12th. Her resume reads 15-7-2-2, $885,515, reflecting six stakes wins and a trio of stakes placings, including last fall’s First Lady (G1).

Later in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), defending champion Heart to Heart posted another front-running success.

The 6-5 favorite went much faster than Celestine, tearing through splits of :22.94, :46.25, and 1:09.57 en route to finishing the mile in 1:32.63. Trained by Brian Lynch, the son of English Channel was giving jockey Julien Leparoux his fourth winner on the card. Three were in graded stakes, with the others being Herecomesthebride (G3) aboard Dream Dancing and the Fred W. Hooper (G3) with Bird Song.

The 12-1 Bondurant, a War Front half-brother to Kentucky Derby (G1) contender McCraken, closed gamely to cut the margin to three-quarters of a length.

Heart to Heart is a fitting two-time winner of the Canadian Turf, being an Ontario-bred and Canadian champion three-year-old male of 2014. Terry Hamilton’s colorbearer is now a 10-time stakes winner. Among his other graded tallies are the 2014 Jefferson Cup (G3) and Commonwealth Turf (G3), 2015 Oceanport (G3) and River City (G3), and 2016 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) and Knickerbocker (G3). He was most recently a close fourth in his Ft. Lauderdale title defense.