Breeders' Cup Classic would be Catholic Boy's race of choice

October 15, 2019 09:26am
After Catholic Boy's "even" fourth-place finish Monday going nine furlongs on the turf in Belmont Park's Knickerbocker Stakes (G2), trainer Jonathan Thomas didn't rule out the Breeders' Cup.

But if he goes, the 4-year-old will do so on dirt while going longer.

Thomas said he'll await Catholic Boy's return to the track before determining whether the multiple Grade 1 winner, who's now 1-for-3 this season, is a fit for the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

"This could be one of those instances where we get back in his training and he's really taken a big step forward," Thomas said, according to the NYRA Press Office. "He was very even and he looked like a horse that getting a mile and a quarter wouldn't be an issue. He galloped out well. He was just a little one-paced."

A son of More Than Ready, Catholic Boy finished three lengths behind Lucullan in his first start since the July 6 Suburban (G2) when second to Preservationist. In his other start this season, the colt came off the bench to win Pimlico's Dixie Stakes (G2) on the Preakness undercard.

The gap from the May 18 Dixie to the Suburban was by design. But a number of minor setbacks prevented another run until Monday, with connections wanting to ensure the future Claiborn Farm stallion was 100% ready.

Last season, Catholic Boy won the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on turf, switched to dirt for a Travers Stakes (G1) score and trained up to the Classic. He lost all hope when shuffled back at the break from an inside post position.

He came back with a lot of energy, so we'll get back to the barn and look at him," Thomas said Monday. "He may have needed a tightener going a mile and an eighth. We'll see if he takes a step forward. I'm not disappointed but I'm not thrilled, either."

Thomas also noted that in the Knickerbocker, won by Lucullan, "
like everyone else, we were thinking a little more speed was going to evolve." Pace-setting Dr. Edgar faded, but only to third in the field of six, finishing a head in front of Catholic Boy.

"Watching that, it would scream (needing) a little more real estate," Thomas said. "The (Breeders' Cup) Mile would be a little bit quick for him. (The Classic) would be the most likely scenario, but we'll have to talk to everybody."


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