Catholic Boy made one of the most remarkable comebacks of the year in Saturday's Pennine Ridge S. (G3) at Belmont Park, beating heavily-favored Analyze It by a neck after giving up the lead in the upper stretch.
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The 3-year-old More Than Ready colt now has three graded stakes wins and has earned $522,000 for his owners Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing.
Catholic Boy got away cleanly in the nine furlong turf event, leading the field through the first half-mile in :47.76, with Analyze It about two lengths back. Around the turn, Analyze It ranged up on the outside and took over the top spot coming into the stretch, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
In mid-stretch Analyze It veered in slightly, causing Javier Castellano to check Catholic Boy, who dropped back about two lengths off the leader. Switching to the outside in deep stretch, Catholic Boy showed incredible grit, rallying past the leader to snatch the win.
The final time of 1:45.78 on the firm turf was less than a second off the track record and earned the winner a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 96.
“If we were going to beat Analyze It, I wanted to get control of the pace and make that horse come off the bridle and keep contact with us,” said winning trainer Jonathan Thomas. “If we turned it into a sprint and walked the dog, I was afraid we wouldn't out-foot him, so I wanted go ahead to send our horse--he's fit, he gets into a good rhythm--and make [Analyze It] keep contact. It looked like it worked.”
Catholic Boy will likely be pointed to the $1.2 million Belmont Derby (G1) on July 7, according to his trainer.
Catholic Boy has now won four of seven starts, including the Remsen S. (G2) and With Anticipation S. (G3) as a 2-year-old. He is one of 83 stakes winners for More Than Ready, whose other graded winners this year include Rushing Fall (G2 Appalachian S.) and Roy H (G2 Palos Verdes S.). The dam of a 2-year-old colt by Super Saver, Catholic Boy's dam Song of Bernadette produced a filly by Carpe Diem in 2017 and foaled an Exaggerator filly Apr. 16.