By Alicia Wincze Hughs
Catholic Boy looks the part in his final BC work!
In the handful of months Javier Castellano has been paired with Catholic Boy, the only impression the son of More Than Ready has made on the Hall of Fame rider is the sense he can do no wrong.
The bay ridgling pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat in both the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3T) and Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T). And when he switched back to the main track for the Aug. 25 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1), the Jonathan Thomas trainee made the transition look seamless with a four-length triumph over fellow grade 1 winner Mendelssohn.
Less than a week out from Catholic Boy’s expected start in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, Castellano got another burst of confidence from his versatile partner during a strong, five-furlong work in 1:01 flat over the Louisville oval the morning of Oct. 28.
“I really like the way he did it today—very straightforward horse,” Castellano said. “It was the way he did it. It was really comfortable. Turf, dirt, rocks—believe me, (surface) doesn’t matter to him. And only special horses do that.”
Breaking off from the half-mile pole, Catholic Boy and Castellano settled into the work in good order and posted splits of :13, :24 4/5, and :36 4/5 before they galloped out to six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 and seven furlongs in 1:28 1/5. When asked whether he feels a difference between the ridgling’s stride on turf compared to dirt, Castellano said the fact there is no noticeable shift only confirms to him the depth of Catholic Boy’s class.
“I think the only thing I can tell with him is his mind and his heart. Those are the things that make him special,” Castellano said. “He’s mature physically and mentally. He’s just a good horse who has lot of skill. He just knows how to handle everything.” In addition to his versatility over turf and dirt, Catholic Boy is also the only Classic hopeful other than Accelerate to have multiple grade 1 victories at the race’s 10-furlong distance.
“He’s certainly been a headliner for our stable,” Thomas said of the horse who has provided him with his five graded stakes wins. “He’s a horse we purchased as a weanling and … as a horseman, it’s been fun, because we’ve been together for a very long time. It means a lot, because there are a lot of different hands that have been on this horse, and everyone has done an exceptional job. I’m proud of the whole circle this horse has taken us on.”
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