Catholic Boy has enough to win the Dixie Stakes in season debut

May 18, 2019 05:51pm

Trainer Jonathan Thomas made it clear heading into Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie Stakes that Catholic Boy had a long season ahead, and that his 4-year-old debut on the Preakness Stakes undercard was only a “launch pad” to bigger things.

Then the colt — a Grade 1 winner on both turf and dirt last season — went and won anyway.

Ridden confidently by jockey Javier Castellano, the son of More Than Ready sat off pace-setting Real Story through fractions of 23.46, 47.71 and 1:11.25 before swinging out off the turn.

From there, it was a three-wide battle for the lead enhanced as Admission Office ran up the rail late for second.

"Javier's body language -- looked like he as confident with some horse underneath him" Thomas said. "It was just a matter of polishing it off. I was really proud of him."

Catholic Boy, in his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Classic scored from the outside post in a field of 12 while away at 7-5. Last year, he won both the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) to emerge as a leader among the crop.

Thomas trains for a partnership of Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, with connections saying he could campaign on both surfaces again as an older horse.

The final time was 1:41.09 for 1 1/16 miles.

Thomas said "the next logical step" is the July 6 Suburban (G2) going 10 furlongs at Belmont Park.

"He's a horse that missed a little time with the wet weather in the last month and a half," the trainer said. "It's a testament to him and his ability."


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