May 26, 2024

Defending champion Catapult faces short field in Eddie Read

In just his second California start, East Coast transplant Catapult scored a new career high in the Eddie Read © BENOIT PHOTO

The 2018 Eddie Read (G2) marked the turning point in Catapult’s career, and Sunday’s $250,000 renewal at Del Mar could offer a similar jump start for the second half of the season.

Formerly a second-tier turfiste on the East Coast, the Woodford Racing colorbearer thrived on the venue change to John Sadler. Catapult won second out for the barn in the Eddie Read, getting up in time to deny Sharp Samurai; turned the double in the Del Mar Mile (G2); and came up a half-length shy when runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Catapult has yet to visit the winner’s circle since, but his over-aggressive ride in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) contributed to his fourth at Gulfstream Park, and he missed in a photo to Ohio in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The son of Kitten’s Joy was a non-threatening fifth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) over the same course, and a return to the seaside could be the key.

Three of his five rivals also contested the Shoemaker.

Sharp Samurai is usually thereabouts, and the combination of third start off the layoff, and the step up to 1 1/8 miles, should help. The beaten favorite in last year’s Eddie Read, the Mark Glatt charge was promoted to second in the Del Mar Mile and rebounded in the City of Hope Mile (G2) in what proved his seasonal finale. Sharp Samurai finished a useful fourth in his Shoemaker Mile comeback, then moved forward when third by a neck in the American (G3).

Late-running Bowies Hero, the 2018 Kilroe winner, was beaten only a length in fourth in last year’s Eddie Read. Sidelined after a too-bad-to-be-true 11th in the Del Mar Mile, the Phil D’Amato trainee resurfaced in the April 27 San Francisco Mile (G3) and rallied for sixth. Bowies Hero offered a sharper kick next time in the Shoemaker to grab third, missing second by a nose, and now gets a rider change to Flavien Prat.

Brazilian-bred Ohio, a sometime graded participant before descending into the claiming ranks, has reached new heights since being haltered by Mike McCarthy for $50,000 last summer. Although a 9-1 outsider in his Kilroe surprise, the veteran gelding was in good form following a Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile romp at Turf Paradise and a half-length second in the Thunder Road (G3). Ohio couldn’t back that up in the Shoemaker, where he faded to sixth, and the extra ground is a question mark.

Marckie’s Water is the only entrant coming off a win, in fact two straight, having followed up a nine-furlong allowance tally with the 1 1/4-mile Charles Whittingham (G2) for Richard Baltas. The California-bred had gone close in graded stakes over 1 1/2 miles, checking in fourth in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) here and the San Luis Rey (G2) almost in defiance of his pedigree. Marckie’s Water sports a three-for-six mark at this trip.

The lone real longshot in the six-horse field, Ritzy A. P., has plenty to prove on paper. Yet the Calumet Farm homebred stands to improve with maturity as a son of English Channel, and his close second in his return over a mile is encouraging. Martin Garcia picks up the mount on the likely pace factor.

The horse who beat Ritzy A. P. in that Santa Anita allowance, Higher Power, rates as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $85,000 Wickerr later on the card. The Medaglia d’Oro half to Grade 2-winning sire Alternate looks like another astute recruit for Hronis Racing and Sadler. The Wickerr, a restricted stakes at a grassy mile, has lured class droppers Law Abidin Citizen (a neck runner-up in the American), Le Ken, and Tizzarunner; the respective top two from last year’s edition, Double Touch and Bombard; and the third and fourth from Higher Power’s allowance, Souter and multiple Grade 3 veteran Blended Citizen.