OZONE PARK, NY – Robert V. LaPenta’s Catholic Boy proved that he’s a threat to win no matter the surface, turning to dirt successfully in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking well from post 5 under Manny Franco, Catholic Boy sat mid-pack early while Bandito set splits of :23.98 and :48.97. After steadily advancing through the far turn, Catholic Boy swung out three wide into the upper stretch and quickly took command. The Jonathan Thomas trainee drew away with ease in his first career dirt race, hitting the wire first by 4 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:52.50 for the 1 1/8-mile race.
“I just followed the instructions,” Franco said. “The trainer told me to break out of there running and to try and get some position early on into the first turn. The horse put me in a good position, and when I called on him to run, he just went.”
Avery Island, the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes winner here last month, wasn’t able to catch the winner but did prevail over Vouch for second by 1 3/4 lengths. Alkhaatam necked out fourth over a closing Tap Rap Strike, who had to overcome a bad stumble out of the gate. Biblical, Millionaire Runner, Triple Dog Dare, V. I. P. Code, and Bandito completed the order of finish.
The Remsen is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Catholic Boy earned 10 points for the win, with Avery Island receiving 4 for second, Vouch 2 for third, and Alkhaatam 1 for fourth.
The win was Catholic Boy’s third in four career starts, including the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, with his lone off-the-board performance coming last out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The juvenile son of More Than Ready now has career earnings of $314,000.
“Early on, he was a turf horse only because there weren’t many route races on the dirt,” Thomas said. “It was kind of a default sort of thing, and he actually breezed fine on the turf, so now we have a lot of thinking to do. The key to him as that if he gets a route of ground. Obviously, our preference would be to have a dirt horse this time of year. I think we definitely have to consider his next start being a dirt race for sure and kind of see where he takes us.”
Catholic Boy returned $10.20 to win, $5 to place, and $3.70 to show. Avery Island brought back $3.70 to place and $3.10 to show, while Vouch paid $6 to show.