Catholic Boy and Analyze It staged one of the most thrilling stretch duels of 2018 in Saturday's $1.2 million Belmont Derby Inv. (G1), with Catholic Boy getting the best of his foe by a head.
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The 3-year-old son of More Than Ready had beaten Analyze It by just a neck in the June 2 Pennine Ridge, and for a moment in the late stages on Saturday, it looked like the tables would be turned.
Analyze It took the lead at the break, but Catholic Boy, under Javier Castellano, forged to the front in the first turn. Analyze It, who tracked in second, made his bid with about three furlongs to run and took the lead just after entering the stretch. Analyze It was up a half-length with less than a sixteenth to run, but Catholic Boy made one last bid to poke his head in front on the wire.
The final time for the 1 1/4-miles on the firm turf was an excellent 1:59.28.
“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.”
“It's the pinnacle,” said trainer Jonathan Thomas of the first Grade 1 win for both him and Catholic Boy. “It's one of those dreams you don't really think about until it happens. I'm happier for (Catholic Boy) because he's a deserving Grade 1 winner. He deserves it. I'm like a proud parent.”
Catholic Boy also upped his earnings to $1,172,000 to become racing's newest millionaire. Owned by Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing, Catholic Boy won the Remsen S. (G2) and With Anticipation S. (G3) as a 2-year-old.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding. He is the 26th Grade 1 winner for More Than Ready, coming just a week after the WinStar stallion's Funtastic registered a Grade 1 win in the United Nations S. at Monmouth Park.