by NYRA Press Office
Catholic Boy came out his victory by a head over Analyze It in the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational in good order, trainer Jonathan Thomas said by phone Sunday morning.
For the second straight race, Catholic Boy got the best of Analyze It, fighting back against his rival to regain the lead in the final jumps. After re-rallying to beat Analyze It by a neck in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 2, Catholic ran down the Chad Brown trainee right before the wire to win the Belmont Derby in similarly spectacular fashion.
“He came out of the race well and he’s actually headed back to Saratoga today,” Thomas said. “The last quarter of a mile of that race was as exciting as it gets. Both horses ran very well and showed a lot of determination, and that’s what racing is all about. We were proud of our horse’s effort, and thought Analyze It ran great, too. It’s just nice to have a horse of this ilk.”
The 3-year-old More Than Ready colt has four wins in five career starts on grass, with his only loss a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Del Mar.
Catholic Boy, owned by Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, is also a graded stakes winner on dirt, capturing the Grade 2 Remsen on December 2 at Aqueduct.
For his efforts, Catholic Boy earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. After winning as a strong closer earlier in his career, he has served as a pacesetter in his last two wins, making him a versatile threat.
“It’s a byproduct of a couple of things. He’s a bigger, stronger horse than he was six months ago,” Thomas said. “It allows us to be a little more aggressive in how you approach a race. Also, he’s learned a lot and he’s actually placing himself more forwardly in races by his own design. He’s breaking a little sharper and taking his rider a little closer to the pace than he did before.”
Thomas was non-committal about Catholic Boy’s future. He said he would discuss his next step with the ownership group and determine if he will stay on the turf or switch back to the main track.
“I don’t know, there’s a smart team behind this horse, so we’ll discuss our options,” Thomas said. “We’ll let this sink in and enjoy this because for us, on the 3-year-old turf calendar, this was the pinnacle race. We’re proud of that and we’ll soak it up and let the horse enjoy it and see where he takes us.”
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Brown’s Stars & Stripes Day contingent in good order; A Raving Beauty, Sistercharlie on target for G1 Diana at Saratoga
William Lawrence’s Analyze It exited his runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby no worse for wear and will target the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 11 at Arlington Park, trainer Chad Brown said Sunday morning.
Analyze It led in the stretch in Saturday’s Belmont Derby before Catholic Boy re-took command in the final jumps to win by a head. It was the second straight race Analyze It lost at the wire to Catholic Boy, finishing a neck behind his rival in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 2.
Analyze It, who started his career 3-for-3 before his back-to-back runner-up performances, has put in strong efforts in stretching from one mile to the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby distance, which is the same as the Secretariat.
“He came back good,” Brown said. “I’ll take him to the Secretariat if he’s doing well. He showed he can handle the distance. We’ll observe the horse training and try to figure out maybe a change of equipment and anything else I can do to correct his issue here of wanting to idle when he makes the lead.”
Brown said Significant Form came out of her fourth-place finish in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational at 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf Saturday well and could run in the Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid at 1 1/8 miles on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course.
Also on Saturday, Favorable Outcome got caught wide in the upper stretch and finished fifth of six in the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship.
“He came back fine, it’s just disappointing yesterday. He just didn’t show up,” Brown said. “I know the pace was super fast and he was way back, but he just didn’t make an impact, so I’ll have to regroup with him.”
A Raving Beauty and Sistercharlie breezed Sunday morning, going five furlongs in 1:00.63 on the inner turf. Brown said he was impressed with the work as the duo gears up for the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on Saratoga’s opening weekend on July 21 for the 1 1/8-mile turf route.
“They worked super and they are on target for the Diana,” said Brown, who added that both New Money Honey and Fourstar Crook are also possibilities for that race.
Uni, who won her last start in the Plenty of Grace on April 14 at Aqueduct Racetrack, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.01 on Sunday. Brown said she is possible for the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 4 at the Spa.
Robert Bruce, winner of the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 5 at Belmont before running sixth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day June 9, also worked Sunday at Belmont, recording five furlongs in company with Almanaar in 1:02.21 as they both ready for the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 11, Brown said.
Off Limits worked four furlongs in 49 seconds. After winning four straight races to close her 2017 campaign, including the Grade 3 Noble Damsel and Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont and the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar, the 5-year-old Irish-bred will be looking for her first victory of 2018, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 9 at Belmont.
“She breezed well today, we’re trying to figure out what to do with her,” Brown said. “It’s a tough one to spot off this year’s form. We still very much like the filly. We know she’s top class. It bothers me that we haven’t been able to get her on track here. But I still have hope that she can have a really good second half of the season. We’re not sure when her next start will be, but we have a few possibilities.”
Meanwhile, Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic continues to train forwardly ahead of his return in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park. The chestnut colt by Curlin most recently worked five furlongs in 1:00.86 over the Belmont main track on Saturday.
“Good Magic is training well and breezed yesterday really well,” Brown said.
Brown added that he hopes to get Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski back onto the worktab in the near future, but it seems unlikely that the Lonhro colt will make the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 28 at Saratoga, his expected prep race for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 25.
Gronkowski breezed once after he ran second to Triple Crown winner Justify, recording a four-furlong move on June 23 in 49.24 seconds.
“Gronkowski hasn’t been able to work, he had a minor issue we’re trying to get past,” he said. “But I’m hopeful he’ll get back to breezing soon, and if he does, we’d love to make the Travers with the horse. He’s missed a few breezes, but he hasn’t missed much training. I just didn’t feel comfortable breezing him. I’m hoping by next week.”
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Diversify in fine fettle following G2 Suburban victory, likely to wait for G1 Woodward at Saratoga
Ralph M. Evans and Lauren Evans' Diversify has emerged from his resounding 6 ½-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban at Belmont Park in good order, said trainer Rick Violette, Jr. on Sunday morning.
“He’s great – tired but pretty cocky,” he said. “He knows he won. He thinks he’s the man – and he is.”
In the 1 ¼-mile Suburban, Diversify led gate to wire through swift early fractions under pressure to record a sharp final time of 1:59.84 for a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure. The win also earned the 5-year-old New York-bred gelding by Bellamy Road membership into thoroughbred racing’s exclusive millionaire club, boosting his lifetime earnings to $1,309,425.
“That was a spectacular race. He beat some really nice horses and didn’t have it his own way,” said Violette. “He was pressed quite a bit and even when there was some separation, it was because he was going really fast. It was pretty cool.”
Diversify is expected to run once this summer at Saratoga Race Course, Violette said, most likely in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward at 1 1/8 miles on September 1.
“He ran hard. The Whitney [Grade 1, $1.2 million on August 4] up there might be too close, it’s four weeks,” he said. “I was thinking it was five weeks, but even five weeks might be too soon with him. We’ll nominate, but I have a feeling we’ll end up waiting for the Woodward. I’ll talk it over with the Evanses and we’ll follow Diversify’s lead.
“We’ll just run him when and where he lets us run,” he added. “We follow his lead and that seems to work. When you act prematurely and he doesn’t give you his ‘A’ game, then you kind of take a step back and he rewards you for doing the right thing.”
The Suburban was the third race of the year for Diversify, and his first graded stakes since finishing a disastrous seventh as the post-time favorite in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, his seasonal debut. Following that effort, Diversify’s connections opted to move the gelding back against state-bred company in the one-mile Commentator on May 28, where he stumbled at the break but recovered quickly enough to win by a hard-fought nose.
Last year, Diversify won four of eight races, including an 11 ½-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Evan Shipman against New York-breds, the second of three straight wins in the summer and fall. He capped that win streak with a gutsy one-length victory in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
“He ran off the screen last year at Saratoga [in the Evan Shipman],” said Violette. “The only more impressive race last summer was Gun Runner in the Whitney last year. But it was a monster race last year. Up until yesterday, that was probably his best race. Certainly, a mile and an eighth, a mile and a quarter is ideal. [The Woodward] is a great race. It’s a historic race, and so is the Whitney; these are legacy races, they have incredible history behind them. [We won] the Gold Cup last year, now the Suburban, it’d be nice to knock out another one of those races. It’s just very cool.”
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Limousine Liberal eyeing G1 Forego following gutsy G2 Belmont Sprint win
Earning his first win outside of the state of Kentucky in dramatic fashion, Limousine Liberal couldn’t have picked a more opportune time.
Sent off as the 9-5 post-time favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, the 6-year-old Successful Appeal gelding took the overland route to victory, racing five wide and overcoming bumping at the top of the stretch to outlast Whitmore and earn his third graded stakes win. The Belmont Sprint also carries an all-fees paid entry to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Churchill Downs.
“He’s come back well and he scoped clean,” said trainer Ben Colebrook. “I was impressed. The only knock on him coming into this race was what he hadn’t won outside of Kentucky. Most of his wins have come at Churchill, but it’s not like he’s run bad races. He’s run into some bad racing luck like at Keeneland. In New York, he’s run solid as well, it’s just there’s such good racing up there that I’m thankful he gave us a top effort.”
With a spot in the Breeders’ Cup already secured, Colebrook said Limousine Liberal would next point towards a start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego at Saratoga on Travers Day, August 25.
“Following an effort like the one he put forth yesterday, four weeks is a little quick to come back for the [Grade 1,$350,000 Alfred G.] Vanderbilt [July 28], so we will look to the Forego and target that as his next start.”
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Fazzolari wins Stars & Stripes Challenge, earns berth to 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge
With a primary focus on exotics wagers, Nick Fazzolari of Colts Neck, New Jersey, capitalized on his strategy in a maiden race at Monmouth Park, successfully completing a Daily Double to catapult himself to the top of the leaderboard in Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Handicapping Challenge at Belmont Park.
With a $500 entry fee, of which $250 was devoted to the prize pool and the remaining $250 comprising each entrant’s bankroll, the Stars & Stripes Challenge offered horseplayers the opportunity to win cash prizes in addition to the player’s bankroll earnings. One seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Handicapping Challenge and two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championships (NHC) were also up for grabs.
“Usually I don’t play exotics, but I decided to focus on [Daily] Doubles for this challenge and thankfully it worked out,” said Fazzolari.
Earning $5,880 in prize money for top honors and $2,704 in live money wagers, Fazzolari opted for a free entry into next year’s Belmont Stakes Challenge with his victory.
“I’m excited to come back and play in the Belmont,” added Fazzolari.
Finishing in second place and earning a seat to the NHC was Kwok Fu Tsui of Flushing, New York, netting $2,856 in prize money and $1,646 in live wagers. Bart Foodew of Point Lookout, New York took the remaining NHC seat finishing in third place with a prize total of $2,184 and a live bankroll of $1,531.50 for the day.
The next New York Racing Association handicapping contest will be the Saratoga Challenge on Friday, August 10 at Saratoga Race Course. With a $1,000 entry fee and a minimum 1st place prize of $15,000, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge and three seats to the 2019 NHC will be at stake.