September 26, 2023

Catholic Boy returns in Dixie; Brown duo looms large in Gallorette

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

Multiple Grade 1 winner Catholic Boy will open his four-year-old season in Saturday’s $250,000 Dixie (G2) on Pimlico’s turf course. One of five turf stakes on the Preakness undercard, the 1 1/16-mile affair has attracted a field of 12.

Unraced since an unplaced finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Catholic Boy will be pointed toward dirt and turf stakes in 2019 after posting multiple graded wins on both surfaces last year. The son of More Than Ready went two-for-two on turf as a sophomore, capturing the Belmont Derby (G1) and Pennine Ridge (G3), and brings an overall four-for-five turf record into the Dixie. Catholic Boy registered a career-best 108 BRIS Speed rating when rolling to a four-length triumph in the Travers (G1) on Saratoga’s main track two starts previously and the Jonathon Thomas-trained ridgling retains the services of Javier Castellano.

Multiple Grade 3 scorer Inspector Lynley enters in good form for Shug McGaughey following a one-length tally in the April 7 Dangers Hour at Aqueduct. Winner of the Tampa Bay (G3) three back, the six-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid utilizes a stalking run style and Jose Lezcano rides.

Real Story counts the 2018 American Derby (G3) among his wire-to-wire conquests and looks like the one to catch in this spot. A neck second most recently in the April 20 Henry Clark at Laurel Park, the four-year-old Fast Bullet gelding will make his third start off the layoff for Ignacio Correas and John Velazquez takes over the controls.

Admission Office rates as an intriguing prospect for Brian Lynch and Joel Rosario. The lightly-raced four-year-old colt will make his second stakes attempt after opening the year with a sharp allowance victory at Keeneland. Grade 2 winner Have At It, a close second in the Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita two back, will make his first appearance since December for Christophe Clement and adds Jose Ortiz. Cross-entered to Friday’s Pimlico Special (G3), multiple Grade 3 victor Flameaway would add to the pace in the Dixie but Mark Casse indicated the speedster is more likely to stick to the main track.

Leading turf trainer Chad Brown will be represented by Barkaa and Inflexibility in the $150,000 Gallorette (G3). Nine fillies and mares are set for the 1 1/16-mile test and the multiple stakes-winning Brown runners will open their 2019 seasons.

Irish Group 3 heroine I’m So Fancy will make her U.S. and 2019 debut for new trainer Arnaud Delacour. Florent Geroux picks up the mount on the five-year-old mare, who was last seen finishing a close third in a Group 2 event at The Curragh in mid-September. Other runners of note include multiple Grade 3 winner Thewayiam and last-out Fair Grounds stakes queen Mitchell Road.

Nine distaffers will sprint five grassy furlongs in the $100,000 The Very One including Jo Jo Air, who handed 1-9 favorite Bulletin his first career setback when posting a 14-1 upset over male rivals in the April 27 William Walker at Churchill Downs. Wesley Ward conditions the up-and-coming daughter of Scat Daddy and Velazquez has the call.

Ickymasho will take some beating in the $100,000 Searching. The seven-year-old mare exits a comfortable front-running victory in the Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland at the 1 ½-mile distance and ran big when posting a pair of head seconds in graded turf marathons at Gulfstream Park this winter. Jose Ortiz will be up for Roger Attfield.

The $100,000 James Murphy kicks off the turf stakes action with 10 three-year-olds competing over a one-mile distance. War Film looks formidable for Steve Asmussen following a pair of fast-closing efforts in the Transylvania (G3) and American Turf (G3) for Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher will send out Grade 3 winner Current.