Catalina Red scores 14-1 upset in Churchill Downs Stakes

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Jen Caldwell

May 7th, 2016

Catalina Red earned his first graded victory on Saturday when rallying to take the $500,000 Churchill Downs S. (G2) under jockey Javier Castellano.

The Jorge Navarro-trained four-year-old settled into a tracking spot about five wide as Limousine Liberal set a pressured pace of :22.24 and :44.64. Holy Boss remained latched onto the front runner all the way down the backstretch, while 3-1 favorite Speightster kept Catalina Red company just in behind.

Entering the turn, Catalina Red found himself six wide rounding the bend but that didn’t stop the chestnut from wresting away command of the race. With Castellano urging him on Catalina Red continued motoring to finish seven furlongs on Churchill Downs’ fast main track in 1:20.79.

Sent off at 14-1, Catalina Red paid $30.20 for finishing one-length in front of Calculator, who made up ground late but could never get to the winner. Kobe’s Back was another three parts of a length behind in third, while Salutos Amigos filled out the top four that same margin back. Speightster faded to next to last.

The lightly raced Catalina Red broke his maiden in the 2014 Inaugural S. at Tampa Bay Downs before setting a new track record at that venue when taking the Pasco S. next out to conclude his juvenile campaign.

The Florida-bred son of Munnings competed just three times as a sophomore, sandwiching a win in the Jackson Bend S. between unplaced efforts in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and Gallant Bob (G3).

He’s now captured both of his 2016 starts, having opened his four-year-old season with a one-length score in the Florida Cup Sprint S. back at Tampa Bay Downs, and boasts a 10-5-1-2 career mark to go along with $469,885 in lifetime earnings.

Catalina Red is out of the stakes-placed Freud mare Lovely Dream, making him a half-brother to stakes runner-up Whiskey Bravo.

Catalina Red photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography


Javier Castellano (rider of Catalina Red, winner): "A very good set-up. It worked out perfect for me. Those two horses showed speed early in the race, and it was a good set-up for me. A good post outside. I like it the way he did it turning for home. When I asked him, he took off really well.''

Jorge Navarro (trainer of Catalina Red, winner): “This is my race, my race. I have to be honest with you, I’ve only been training this horse for a month. The owner (Anthony Lenci) asked me to take him. He said, ‘I want to give this horse a chance. Will you train him?’ I want to say that (former trainer) Chad Stewart did a fabulous job with this horse. The owner had a lot of confidence in this horse. We only had a month to get him ready for this race, but he trained great for it. We’ll see how he comes out of the race before we decide where he’ll go next.”

Junior Alvarado (rider of Calculator, runner-up): “Good race for him and a good trip for me. He likes it on the outside. I wish we would have broken from them. But what are you going to do. It was a good race for the horse.”

Gary Stevens (rider of Kobe’s Back, third-place finisher): “He was back to the old ‘Kobe’ – breaking bad. He almost dwelt coming out of there. Then it was like he wasn’t interested for the first three-eighths of a mile. On the turn he got serious and hit the afterburners and really came on. But it’s frustrating with him.”