What Racing Is All About: Thomas Thrilled By Catholic Boy’s Belmont Derby Success

Catholic Boy, winner of the Grade I Belmont Derby on July 7th, is trained by Jonathan Thomas, son of Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) Track Superintendent J.D. Thomas. The following piece appeared in The Paulick Report July 9th.

Catholic Boy came out his victory by a head over Analyze It in the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational in good order, trainer Jonathan Thomas said by phone Sunday morning.

For the second straight race, Catholic Boy got the best of Analyze It, fighting back against his rival to regain the lead in the final jumps. After re-rallying to beat Analyze It by a neck in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 2, Catholic ran down the Chad Brown trainee right before the wire to win the Belmont Derby in similarly spectacular fashion.

“He came out of the race well and he’s actually headed back to Saratoga today,” Thomas said. “The last quarter of a mile of that race was as exciting as it gets. Both horses ran very well and showed a lot of determination, and that’s what racing is all about. We were proud of our horse’s effort, and thought Analyze It ran great, too. It’s just nice to have a horse of this ilk.”

Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) and jockey Javier Castellano win the Belmont Derby Invitational (Gr I) at Belmont Park 7/7/18. Trainer: Jonathan Thomas. Owner: LaPenta, Robert V., Madaket Stables LLC, Siena Farm LLC, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC

The 3-year-old More Than Ready colt has four wins in five career starts on grass, with his only loss a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Del Mar.

Catholic Boy, owned by Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, is also a graded stakes winner on dirt, capturing the Grade 2 Remsen on December 2 at Aqueduct.

For his efforts, Catholic Boy earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. After winning as a stro’ng closer earlier in his career, he has served as a pacesetter in his last two wins, making him a versatile threat.

“It’s a byproduct of a couple of things. He’s a bigger, stronger horse than he was six months ago,” Thomas said. “It allows us to be a little more aggressive in how you approach a race. Also, he’s learned a lot and he’s actually placing himself more forwardly in races by his own design. He’s breaking a little sharper and taking his rider a little closer to the pace than he did before.”

Thomas was non-committal about Catholic Boy’s future. He said he would discuss his next step with the ownership group and determine if he will stay on the turf or switch back to the main track.

“I don’t know, there’s a smart team behind this horse, so we’ll discuss our options,” Thomas said. “We’ll let this sink in and enjoy this because for us, on the 3-year-old turf calendar, this was the pinnacle race. We’re proud of that and we’ll soak it up and let the horse enjoy it and see where he takes us.”