Bloodlines: Catholic Boy’s Potential, Versatility Run Deep

With a four-length victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Catholic Boy (by More Than Ready) has taken a serious position among the 3-year-olds of 2018. Although unlikely to depose Justify in the regard of the Triple Crown winner’s legion of racing fans, Catholic Boy is a sound and progressive sort of racehorse who was good last season and is clearly better this year.

As a 2-year-old, Catholic Boy was one of the best young athletes in the country. He won three of his four starts and began his stakes career well with a victory in the G3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, then progressed to win the G2 Remsen Stakes at nine furlongs at Aqueduct in the late fall. The Remsen is primarily regarded by horsemen as an indicator of promise for 3-year-old success over a distance of ground, and Catholic Boy was trained and raced with that plan in mind.

A pair of losses earlier this year, especially a fourth-place finish in the G1 Florida Derby at the end of March, sent the colt and trainer Jonathan Thomas along a different path to their late-season goals. The colt freshened for two months before coming back with successive victories on turf in the G3 Pennine Ridge on June 2 and the G1 Belmont Derby on July 7, before returning to race on dirt in the Travers on Aug. 25.

The Travers became the sixth victory for the bay colt from nine starts to date, and the bay son of More Than Ready now has more than $1.8 million in earnings. The trainer has said that Catholic Boy is likely to have one more start this fall before tackling the best older horses in training at Churchill Downs in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Bred in Kentucky Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Catholic Boy is out of the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette and is the second G1 winner out of a Bernardini mare. The other is the Uncle Mo colt Mo Town, who earned his G1 brackets with a success in the Hollywood Derby on turf. Like Catholic Boy, Mo Town won the G2 Remsen Stakes at the end of his first season. Mo Town will enter stud at Ashford for the 2019 season.

Unless something unforeseen occurs, Catholic Boy is expected to race on at 4, with further glory and riches at stake for a sound and athletic performer who is versatile on both dirt and turf and stays 10 furlongs or more well.

As such, he is all that a breeder could hope for in a foal, and Catholic Boy’s breeders chose to sell him as a short yearling (technically a yearling because he had passed Jan. 1 but not chronologically 12 months of age) in the 2016 Keeneland January sale, where the colt was bid in at $170,000. Trainer Jonathan Thomas was present for the sale and reported that he liked the colt quite a lot. After the colt went through the ring, Thomas hustled back to the Taylor Made representative responsible and made a deal to acquire the colt.

It is fitting that Catholic Boy should attain the pinnacle of his career to this point at Saratoga because the Spa has been “berry, berry good” to both the sire and broodmare sire of the Travers winner. In 1999, the early-maturing and fleet More Than Ready (Southern Halo) won his first five starts in a row, beginning with a contentious maiden special at Keeneland in April. The final race, and fourth stakes, in that winning series was the G2 Sanford at Saratoga. And despite a very respectable fourth in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, it appeared the Sanford might be the highlight of More Than Ready’s racing career until the good-looking colt won the G1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga later that season.

Upon his retirement to stud, More Than Ready became one of the best of the pioneering shuttle sires of the time, and he is the sire of multiple champions in both hemispheres, most recently with 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H, the Eclipse Award winner for leading sprinter of 2017. Standing at WinStar Farm between Versailles and Lexington, More than Ready is still an active stallion, and he will shortly be credited with more than 3,000 foals worldwide.

Likewise, Bernardini (A.P. Indy) found success at the Spa during his racing career, winning the G1 Travers in 2006, as well as the G2 Jim Dandy. Subsequently, Bernardini was named the season’s 3-year-old champion. Sent to stud at Darley‘s Jonabell farm near Lexington, the elegant bay has sired two winners of the Travers (Alpha and Stay Thirsty), in addition to Cavorting (Test, Personal Ensign), Rachel’s Valentina (Spinaway), and To Honor and Serve (Woodward).

With the infield canoe painted in the colors of co-owner Robert LaPenta after Catholic Boy’s Travers success, this is a family that really floats your boat at the Spa.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

The post Bloodlines: Catholic Boy’s Potential, Versatility Run Deep appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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