ELMONT, NY – Showing the heart of a champion Catholic Boy dug down deep once again to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,200,000 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes over Analyze It. The two horses are starting to develop a rivalry that could end up being one of the best we have seen in recent years.
It was deja vu all over again for Catholic Boy and Analyze It as the Belmont Derby turned into a sequel of the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge stakes down the stretch. Once again Analyze swept past Catholic Boy to take the lead in mid-stretch, and looked home free late in the stretch, before Catholic Boy courageously fought back on the inside to nip the Chad Brown trained colt right at the wire. Even trainer Jonathan Thomas admitted that he did not think Catholic Boy would fight back and win this time around.
“What a stretch drive,” Thomas said. “My hats off to Analyze It, he ran super. It was a hell of a horse race. He really has an awful lot of heart. I didn’t expect him to fight back this time. I thought we were going to finish a really good second, [but] somehow he got it done. He’s always been a real generous training horse. You never know how they will respond in that scenario because we never put them in that situation in the mornings. Between his heart and Javier’s ride, what can you say? We had no instructions before the race. We just wanted him to ride him by gut instinct and do what he thought was best.”
Catholic Boy sped out to the early lead in this race with Analyze It and Hunting Horn keeping a close eye on the leader up the backstretch. When the real running began Analyze It was the first to strike, while Hunting Horn never could make up ground on the top two. That is when the stretch duel ensued between these two great colts.
This is a rivalry that could become something special as we move into the summer and fall months of racing. These two turf stars have proven to be the best in their crop, and more duels between the two would be great for the sport. There is nothing more exciting than a stretch drive like what we saw on Saturday, and it is clear that there is little that separates these two stars.
“It’s good for the sport to see two of the best 3-year-old horses on the turf run the way they did,” Castellano said. “They put a lot of effort, it’s two good horses and it can go either way. I’m very fortunate it went my way. I’m very respectful of Analyze It, he’s a great horse with a great trainer. Someone had to win the race, and I’m lucky to be in the spot I am.”
Catholic Boy returned $12.20 to win, $5.10 to place, and $3.40 to show. Analyze It brought back $3.90 to place and $2.70 to show, while Hunting Horn paid $3.00 to show.