Catholic Boy off turf to contest Remsen Stakes

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Alastair Bull

November 30th, 2017

High-quality turf colt Catholic Boy becomes an intriguing addition to the horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby when he contests the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 2.

Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) contested his first three races on grass. He won a maiden at Gulfstream Park, and followed that with a stylish victory in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.

He then went to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), where he rallied well from midfield to finish fourth behind Mendelssohn.

More Than Ready has shown an ability to sire dirt as well as turf runners, and there is plenty of dirt ability in Catholic Boy’s distaff pedigree. His form is as strong as anything going into the race. If he handles the dirt, he will be right in the finish.

The only other stakes winner in the 10-horse field, which carries a points split of 10-4-2-1 on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, is Avery Island (Street Sense). Well beaten on his debut at Saratoga Aug. 19, he was much better Sept. 30 in a Belmont Park maiden, leading all the way to win by 5 ¼ lengths.

This earned him a trip to the Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Nov. 5, and he again led most of the way to win by 4 ¾ lengths. Behind him in third was Aveenu Mulcainu, who two starts previously won the Funny Cide Stakes.

The other eight runners are largely unproven. Two are unbeaten: Vouch (Yes It’s True), winner of his only start at Laurel Park by 8 ¼ lengths, and Tap Rap Strike (Tapit), an $850,000 OBS March 2-year-old purchase from the John Servis barn who won well on debut at Parx.

The only horse with stakes form among the others is V.I.P. Code (City Zip). He’s the most experienced horse in the race, his five starts producing two wins, two seconds, and a third. His first four runs were at Laurel Park on dirt, before he came to Belmont Park for the one-mile Awad Stakes on turf, where he made ground from well back to finish second by a length to Therapist at 71-1 odds.

Triple Dog Dare (Paynter) and Alkhaatam (Tapit) finished second and third, respectively, behind Indimaaj in a competitive Oct. 25 maiden at Belmont Park. Bandito (Creative Cause), Biblical (Tapit), and Millionaire Runner (Warrior’s Reward) all have last-start victories to their name.

Catholic Boy and Avery Island clearly stand out on form. V.I.P. Code seems to be improving, Vouch couldn’t have been more impressive on debut, and Tap Rap Strike looks likely to improve. But keep an eye on the market for the others.