ELMONT, NY – Fresh off of breaking his maiden on debut here on June 2, Gary Barber’s What a Catch wired a field of five 2-year-olds in Saturday’s $100,000 Rockville Centre Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt broke to the lead from post 4 and stayed there, covering fractions of :23.12 and :46.48 before completing the 6-furlong distance over a fast main track in 1:11.21 under jockey John Velazquez.
Morning Breez and rider Rosario Montanez immediately engaged What a Catch from the outside, running within 1 length of the leader down the backside and through the turn. Velazquez and Montanez put their steeds to work off the turn and set them down for the drive home, with What a Catch holding off his rival by 1 length at the line.
“We came out running,” Velazquez said. “I thought the horse to the outside of me might make the lead, so I came out running to see what he is going to do. And then he sat off of me, and that was perfect; I stayed in front of him. My horse seemed a little bit green, so it kind of helped him to have company. After that, I tried to get away from the horse at the 1/4 pole, tried to discourage the horse a little bit, and I think it worked out.”
Third from the get-go, Pletcher’s other entrant Analyze the Odds crossed 6 lengths behind the leaders and 2 ahead of Morrison. Never a factor once the gate opened, Over Salty couldn’t get going and finished a trailing 30 lengths. Lake Party was scratched.
“I thought he was very professional,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. “He acted good in the paddock and post parade, broke sharp, and fought off the second-place horse. He’s always been pretty classy; a bit precocious 2-year-old. He’s been benefitting from that and stepping up every time we’ve asked him.”
With the winner’s share of $60,000, the chestnut colt increased his career earnings to $97,200 with a record of 2-2-0-0. What a Catch’s victory was the first stakes win for sire Justin Phillip.
What a Catch returned $5.80, $2.70, and $2.10. Morning Breez brought back $2.60 and $2.10, while Analyze The Odds paid $2.20 to show.