Breeders’ Cup 2018: Plans for Catholic Boy

With regular rider Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano aboard, multiple Grade 1 winner Catholic Boy breezed four furlongs in 49.07 seconds on Belmont’s main track Sunday morning, marking his second workout since winning the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers on August 25 at Saratoga.

Deciding to train up to his expected next start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill Downs, trainer Jonathan Thomas said the 3-year-old More Than Ready colt has continued to progress since notching his first Grade 1 win on dirt in the Mid-Summer Derby after capturing the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational on turf. Thomas reported that Catholic Boy has settled into his new surroundings at Belmont, where he will remain and is expected to have two more workouts before shipping to Churchill in advance of the race.

“Today was just a kind of maintenance work,” Thomas said. “It was his second breeze back since the Travers, after which we gave him 10 days off just to let him get a little break. We came down here about two weeks ago and he’s settled in really nicely.”

Catholic Boy kicked off his 2018 campaign with a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis before running fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream. He then returned to the turf, recording victories in both the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge and Belmont Derby.

“Obviously, we’ll let the weather determine our schedule, but it’s a factor for everybody,” said Thomas. “We plan to train with maybe two more works here, and then we’ll go to Churchill, where we’ll either have one or two breezes.”

Thomas said he is looking forward to continued success competing in New York after posting three wins from six starts at the Belmont fall meet through Sunday 9/30, including a victory with 3-year-old filly Tesora in the Christie Cat on September 7.

“Everything’s good,” Thomas said. “We’ve been very lucky and had a very good last couple months and look forward to running a couple horses and staying here through the fall.”

Seeking The Soul to the Cup?

The smile on trainer Dallas Stewart’s face was hard to miss last Sunday morning at Churchill Downs following Seeking the Soul’s gutsy 1 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Ack Ack Presented by GE Appliances (Grade III) Saturday night. Now, the six-time winner is likely headed to the Breeders’ Cup, according to Stewart.

“That was a legit race with a legit final time,” Stewart said. “He ran the mile in (1:35.01) and showed a great effort at a track we know he loves. I’m pumped as ever with this horse. We have our options open a bit between the Dirt Mile (GI) and the Classic (GI). Mr. Fipke and I will get together to talk things over about where to head. He’s doing great this morning after the race.”

Prior to the Ack Ack, Seeking the Soul finished 13th in the $750,000 Woodward (GI) over 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on Sept. 1. After running third in last year’s Lukas Classic, Seeking the Soul won a 1 1/16-mile condition allowance at Keeneland and then scored in the $500,000 Clark Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs in late November.

Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Seeking the Soul rallied from a couple lengths off the early pace before drawing clear inside the eighth pole.

“I think the slower pace helped me,” Hernandez said following the race. “I was able to keep up close to the pace and the leaders didn’t get away from me.”

Seeking the Soul is scheduled to remain in Barn 37 at Churchill Downs through the Breeders’ Cup.

Source: Press Releases

Catholic Boy Ready for Travers

2018 Travers Stakes Notes – Part II

Grade 1 Belmont Derby winner Catholic Boy, set to switch surfaces after consecutive victories on turf, will likely breeze Sunday over Saratoga Race Course’s main track in his final serious move before the Grade 1 Travers August 25.

“He’s carrying great flesh and moving well,” reported trainer Jonathan Thomas of the More Than Ready colt, who races for Robert La Penta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stable. “Javier [Castellano] seems pretty pleased with him. Sunday, weather permitting, we’ll look for more of the same from him, a continuation of what we’ve been seeing the past few weeks. We’ve been pleased with how he’s progressed, especially in the middle half of the year. He’s put on good weight and has muscled up.”

Catholic Boy has hit the board in all eight of his career starts, with five victories, including turf wins in the Grade 3 With Anticipation last season and the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge this year, as well as a 4 ½-length score in the Grade 2 Remsen last fall over Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track.

He began his 3-year-old campaign with a solid second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, but was given time off after bleeding in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, in which he finished fourth. With Castellano aboard, he then eked out a hard-fought victory over Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge and duplicated that effort in the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby.

“He’s the kind of horse that makes life easy,” said Thomas. “We have all the faith in the world in Javier, and Manny [Franco] was huge in cultivating this horse as a 2-year-old. As well, you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people than his owners.”

Source: NYRA

Who’s a 2018 Kentucky Derby Contender According to Dew

Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

by Justin Dew

Even though there are still four hugely important Kentucky Derby prep races to be run, I have already made some key decisions about my Derby Day wagering. That’s not to say I can’t go back and change my mind later. It’s possible that the upcoming prep races will change everything. But things are definitely starting to take shape.

Gulfstream Park horse toteThere is a 0% chance that Mendelssohn makes a prominent appearance on my tickets. I don’t care that he is related to Beholder, nor do I care that he allegedly earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure in winning the UAE Derby. That racetrack was a conveyor belt, and that race had to take a lot out of him. I think he will be over-bet based on the margin of victory and the track record time. If he is a freak of nature and runs huge in Louisville, then I will tip my cap and tear up my tickets. I am definitely glad that he is coming to America, and there is no doubt that he is a very exciting racehorse. I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d like to see the Coolmore people win the Kentucky Derby someday. But Mendelssohn is a bet against for me.

How much did we really learn about Audible from his Florida Derby win? I had him ranked very high before the race, and he certainly did not disappoint. But with the insane early pace, and with Catholic Boy apparently bleeding, he almost had no choice but to win. I am clearly not going to fault him for winning, but we can expect to see much lower odds in the Kentucky Derby based on how visually impressive he was in the Florida Derby. Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

And speaking of the Florida Derby, if Hofburg runs in the Kentucky Derby, I have a strange feeling he is going to become the wiseguy horse. Everyone will start talking about how he will love a mile and a quarter and is just learning what the racing game is all about, and how Bill Mott is the greatest trainer in history and blah blah blah. But just like Audible, Hofburg benefited from the blazing early fractions and passed a bunch of horses that were stopping and/or bleeding. I actually thought Mississippi ran a fantastic race, but I don’t think he will have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It sounds like Promises Fulfilled will continue on to Louisville, where I see him finishing somewhere between ninth and 16th.

Perhaps the most significant Kentucky Derby development this weekend was the announcement that McKinzie is injured and will miss his start in the Santa Anita Derby. I’ll have more to say about him later this week, but suffice it to say I was looking forward to betting against him in Kentucky also.

There are a few horses who have already made their final prep that I would like to discuss. Noble Indy doesn’t do it for me, and based on what I’m reading he doesn’t do it for many other people either. I have a feeling Jon Velazquez will end up on Audible instead of this guy. Bravazo is interesting to me. Let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. And Runaway Ghost didn’t look like a horse who will have trouble with the Derby distance when he won at Sunland. I can see him closing late for a big piece of the Derby pie.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich NilsenLots to look forward to this weekend. It seems as if the Blue Grass Stakes is shaping up as an absolute battle. And it will feature the horse who I think is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Derby.


— Editor’s Note: I got to know Justin Dew (left) when he was the official blogger for the very official Kentucky Derby website.  He’s an amazing father and fantastic gambler.  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  Welcome aboard, Justin!