More Than Ready's multiple Grade 1 winner Catholic Boy made a triumphant return to the races in Saturday’s $250,000 Dixie (G2) at Pimlico Race Course, besting Admission Office by a half-length to sixth lifetime graded stakes win.
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Owned by Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, the 4-year-old has now earned $1,992,000 and is 7-1-0 in 11 starts. He is More Than Ready's fifth graded stakes winner this year and is on the cusp of becoming his sixth horse to earn at least $2 million.
Ridden by regular rider Javier Castellano, Catholic Boy was never far off the lead at any point of the 1 1/16-mile contest, despite breaking from the outside post in the field of 10 turf specialists. Fully engaging the pacesetter at the top of the stretch, Catholic Boy had stiff challenges on both sides, but dug in gamely to secure the win in 1:41.09 on the firm turf, less than a second off the track record.
“I was thinking [in the stretch] he might need a better trainer,” said his conditioner Jonathan Thomas. “No, but he’s just such a gifted horse. I would have been happy coming here and running a good second or third and galloping out well. But he has it in him to win. It was great to see. We thought this race was a good launch pad for the bigger races going into the remainder of the year.
“Sometimes turf is a little easier on them coming back and that was the plan we utilized,” he added. “Javier – it’s a rare game when you get to see a Hall of Famer hone their trade. He’s a rare rider and I thought he rode him beautifully.”
Catholic Boy sold as a yearling for $170,000 at the 2016 Keeneland January Sale. Bred by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding, he is out of the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette.