Travers In Play For Belmont Derby Hero Catholic Boy

The following appeared in The Paulick Report July 30th.

Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational winner Catholic Boy breezed four furlongs on the Saratoga Race Course main track on Sunday as trainer Jonathan Thomas mulls his options with the 3-year-old.

Working under exercise rider Tracy Price, Catholic Boy ran the opening quarter-mile in 23 4/5 seconds and wrapped up his move in 48 3/5. The breeze was Catholic Boy’s first since his victory in the Belmont Derby on July 7. He hadn’t worked on the dirt since May 19 in what was his second breeze following his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April.

“First and foremost, it looks like he came out of the Belmont Derby really well,” said Thomas, who conditions the More Than Ready colt for Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. “His energy level was good, but he was nice and relaxed and was moving really well. Solid eighths to the wire, and he wanted to really gallop out when Tracy reached up to grab him. He really jumped into the bridle and really looked full of himself. Purely a maintenance drill. We weren’t looking for anything fancy.”

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

Catholic Boy, winner of the Grade 2 Remsen on the dirt last November at Aqueduct Racetrack, most likely will make his next start in either the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on the main track August 25 or the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac on the turf September 1.

“We wanted to keep the Travers in play and learn about his action over this track,” said Thomas. “We wanted to give him an opportunity. We’re not going to make a decision off one breeze. We want to have a body of work over it, and then make a determination. The timing into the Travers is very good, and the Saranac is a great backup because it’s a week later. We have always been of the mindset that he’ll tell us through his training where we are going. We have a circle around that seven-day span.”

The Belmont Derby was the first Grade 1 victory for both Catholic Boy and Thomas, a former assistant to Christophe Clement and Todd Pletcher. Catholic Boy was headed in the stretch by Analyze It before coming back to win by a nose in what was a virtual carbon copy of his victory in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge in June at Belmont.

“As a team, we were really proud to deliver a Grade 1 for the horse and for our clients,” said Thomas. “He has always trained like a Grade 1-caliber horse. He’s a horse I bought as a yearling and we broke, so it was a real team effort. He’s a real house horse for us. There was a lot of satisfaction. The style of it added a little dramatic flair to both efforts. He’s acquired some fans. I’ve had a lot of people comment on how fun it was to watch him. That part has been cool.”