May 24, 2022

Catholic Boy stays undefeated in With Anticipation

Catholic Boy has excelled on turf and dirt (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Catholic Boy sprung a 12-1 upset of Wednesday’s $150,000 With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga on Wednesday, putting himself in the long-range discussion for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar in early November.

Ridden by Manny Franco, Catholic Boy saved ground in mid-pack while Earth set a pace of :23.19, :47.02 and 1:11.28 in the 1 1/16-mile test. With a strong right tug on the reins from Franco entering the stretch, Catholic Boy got off the hedge and into a path where he was able to rally between rivals and wear down mid-stretch leader Irish Territory by a length.

“I had a lot of horse under me and I was trying to find my way out,” Franco said. “I had to wait a little longer than I wanted, but the hole opened, and I had a lot of horse left and we won.”

Owned by Robert LaPenta and trained by Jonathan Thomas, Catholic Boy returned $26.40. Irish Territory finished three parts of a length ahead of Untamed Domain. The order of finish was rounded out by Seabhac, Earth, Morrison, 5-2 favorite Evaluator, Trumpi, Nauti Buoy, Machtree, and Fort Wise Treaty.

Catholic Boy’s earnings now stand at $114,000. He entered this race off a two-length debut victory at Gulfstream Park going 7 1/2 furlongs on July 20.

“He’s screaming for distance. We had the seven-furlong race at Kentucky Downs and the mile race at Del Mar, but with [owner] Mr. LaPenta being a New Yorker, and this is my second home, being able to come up here and get the trip-of-ground we needed was important,” said Thomas, who’s winning at 27 percent clip this year. “I’m impressed with him knowing he didn’t get the cleanest trip and he negotiated some pockets and holes and overcame it.

“Obviously, the goal would be to get to the Breeders’ Cup from here with possible start in the Pilgrim (G3) in between, but we’ll see.”

Bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding, Catholic Boy was an RNA for $190,000 at the 2016 Keeneland January sale. He’s by More Than Ready and out of the Bernardini mares Song of Bernadette.