‘Matured’ Catholic Boy Targets July 6 Suburban Handicap

by | 05.19.2019 | 2:52pm
Javier Castellano celebrates Catholic Boy's triumphant return to turf in the G2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico

Catholic Boy was known for his high-level consistency and versatility during his 3-year-old campaign with Grade 1 triumphs on dirt and turf. Following a comeback win in the Grade 2 Dixie over the grass at Pimlico in his 4-year-old debut, he could go back to the main track for the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban Handicap on Belmont Park's Star and Stripes Racing Festival program July 6.

Trained by Jonathan Thomas, Catholic Boy won the Dixie by a half-length over Admission Office, earning a 96 Beyer Speed Figure, which was his first start since finishing 13th in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Last season, he won the Belmont Derby Invitational on turf and the Runhappy Travers on dirt, both Grade 1 races.

“The strategy was that it's six weeks out from the Suburban and that time frame has worked out in the past,” Thomas said. “We've got a circle around that race and so far, he looks great. 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.”

With his 4-year-old debut in the rearview mirror, Thomas said Catholic Boy has developed the way that he should.

“He's done what you would expect a horse from three to four would do,” Thomas said. “He's filled out and yesterday, pre-race, he was just a lot more grown up with his behavior. He's matured.”

His 3-year-old campaign was not the only time Catholic Boy scored graded stakes wins on both surfaces. At age two, he won the Grade 3 With Anticipation over the turf at Saratoga and capped off that season with a win in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct over the main track.

Owned by Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing, Catholic Boy is by More Than Ready, who was last year's co-leading sire of Grade 1 winners. He is out of the Bernardini broodmare Song of Bernadette.

Thomas also spoke of dual Grade 1 winner Diversify, who breezed an easy half-mile in 51.55 seconds over the Belmont Park training track on Sunday morning.

“He did it comfortably and I thought he did it well,” Thomas said. “We'll maintain a weekly schedule with him.”

No plans have yet been made for Diversify's 2019 debut. Last year, the New York-bred son of Bellamy Road won the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park and Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

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