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

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Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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