Shifman: Catholic Boy moving up top Thoroughbred lists

May 22, 2019 10:00am

War of Will and Catholic Boy were the big weekend winners exiting Preakness Stakes day, with their victories at Pimlico Racing Course launching both on my NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll ballot for the first time.

Catholic Boy’s 2019 debut win in the
Dixie Stakes (G2) on the turf earned him the No. 4 position, while War of Will’s Preakness score earned him a No. 6 nod in my Top 10.

Catholic Boy’s return had been greatly anticipated based on a 3-year-old when he recorded consecutive Grade 1 victories, first on turf in the Belmont Derby Invitational and then over dirt in the Travers Stakes.

ner Jonathan Thomas will race his colt on both surfaces again this year, and that versatility gives him a serious chance to eventually top this poll.

"He's done what you would expect a horse from 3 to 4 would do," Thomas said Sunday. "He's filled out and (Saturday), pre-race, he was just a lot more grown up with his behavior. He's matured."

This voter was impressed with the gutsy victory by Catholic Boy against a field of 10 in the Dixie after a layoff dating back to the Breeders' Cup Classic in November. It was actually the first time that he raced on the turf in 10 months.

Thomas anticipates that his horse will race next on the dirt in the Suburban (G2) on July 6 at distance of a mile and a quarter. That would then set the son of More Than Ready up for Grade 1 racing at Saratoga.

"We've got a circle around that race and so far, he looks great," Thomas said of the Suburban. "That's the scenario we would love to play out. We'll let the dust settle and see what number he ran. We're not committed one way or another."

One race later at Pimlico, when War of Will burst through an opening along the rail at to take command of the Preakness, he recorded his third graded stakes victory of the year. The Mark Casse runner now has won a Grade 1, 2, and 3 race in 2019. Given a Triple Crown race is among those victories, he has more than earned his spot in my Top 10.

Admittedly, I had to think for a while before deciding to place Maximum Security one spot ahead of War of Will. No doubt that right now those two are the top 3-year-olds in the country. War of Will appears to be headed to the Belmont Stakes, while Maximum Security has targeted the Haskell (G1).

In the consensus poll, it is worth noting that now-retired Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner City of Light has dropped out of the Top 10, although he still received one No. 1 vote. Champion Monomoy Girl, who hasn't raced this season, only received two No. 1 votes, and Met Mile (G1) probable Thunder Snow collected one.

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Bricks and Mortar (32)

 1. Bricks and Mortar

 2. McKinzie (6)

 2. Gift Box

 3. Gift Box (3)

 3. McKinzie

 4. Midnight Bisou

 4. Catholic Boy

 5. Mitole

 5. Maximum Security

 6. World of Trouble

 6. War of Will

 7. Catholic Boy

 7. Midnight Bisou

 8. Monomoy Girl (2)

 8. Mitole

 9. Thunder Snow (1)

 9. World of Trouble

 10. Roy H

 10. Coal Front


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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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