Shifman: Catholic Boy down but not out of older male race

July 10, 2019 10:28am

As the Older Male division continues to be unpredictable, voters in the weekly NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll appear to remain in wait-and-see mode. This was evidenced this past week when Catholic Boy was upset by Preservationist in the Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park.

Catholic Boy tumbled in the consensus poll from sixth to 10th, just remaining in ahead of the female turf runner Vasilika. At the same time, the other older males not only held firmly, but McKinzie, who occupies the fourth spot, somehow picked up a No. 1 vote..

Mitole and Vino Rosso are the only older dirt horses in the Top 10 who have Grade 1 victories in 2019. Seeking the Soul, McKinzie and Catholic Boy have only one victory apiece at the Grade 2 level.

Catholic Boy was a bit headstrong in the early going of the 10-furlong Suburban, and he wound up on the lead going six furlongs in 1:11.69. Preservationist overtook Catholic Boy and pulled away in the stretch to prevail in his stakes debut.

As a result, Jonathan Thomas, the trainer of Catholic Boy, has adjusted the plans for his horse going forward.

"The Woodward will be our major target," Thomas said. "While we think he's a mile and a quarter horse, I feel more confident cutting him back to a mile and an eighth now more than ever just off of the tactical speed he seems to have."

Maybe I was too lenient when I left Catholic Boy in the No. 5 spot, but I think 10th is too low. In the Suburban, he ran into a horse that got an ideal setup and unleashed what is likely to be his career best performance. I agree that a victory from Catholic Boy was expected, and that the defeat would affect the poll results. Still, I think that Catholic Boy has every right to improve in the Woodward.

This week, I also had to the recognize the talent of
Concrete Rose after her very impressive victory in the Belmont Oaks (G1) when she registered her fifth win in six career starts. In 2019, she is unbeaten in three races with all of them graded stakes.

This coming week, the only Top 10 horse in action will be Rushing Fall as she takes on formidable Chad Brown stablemates in the Diana (G1). L
ast year’s Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie is expected to make her 2019 debut, and Homerique will try for her third win in a row since coming to America.

There are also interesting races for the 3-year-olds when
Mr. Money goes for his third win in a row in the Indiana Derby (G3) and Game Winner likely makes his return in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3).

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Bricks and Mortar (29)

 1. Mitole

 2. Mitole (8)

 2. Bricks and Mortar

 3. Midnight Bisou (2)

 3. Midnight Bisou

 4. McKinzie (1)

 4. World of Trouble

 5. World of Trouble

 5. Catholic Boy

 6. Seeking the Soul

 6. Seeking the Soul

 7. Rushing Fall

 7. McKinzie

 8. Thunder Snow

 8. Vino Rosso

 9. Vino Rosso

 9. Rushing Fall

 10. Catholic Boy

 10. Concrete Rose


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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