ELMONT, N.Y. – Travers winner Catholic Boy will forgo a prep race and will train up to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, trainer Jonathan Thomas said Wednesday.
Following the Travers, which Catholic Boy won by four lengths, Thomas had said that he might look to use the Hill Prince, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Belmont on Oct. 6, as a stepping-stone to the Classic. But upon further review, Thomas and his ownership group – headed by Robert LaPenta – felt training Catholic Boy up to the Classic is the preferred way to go.
“After taking a little time and going through his [past performances] and what’s worked for us in the past, the smartest move is training up to the Classic,” Thomas said by phone Wednesday from Lexington, Ky., where he was attending the Keeneland yearling auction.
Catholic Boy will have 10 weeks between the Travers and the Classic. He had 10 weeks between races after he won the Remsen and finished second, beaten a half-length, in the Sam. F. Davis at Tampa in February. He had nine weeks between the Florida Derby, where he was fourth, and the Penine Ridge at Belmont, a turf race that he won.
Thomas said he’s “a huge fan” of trainer Bob Baffert’s work and noted that that both American Pharaoh, in 2015, and Arrogate, in 2016, were 3-year-olds who won the Classic without having raced since the Travers.
“It’s a recipe that’s worked well, not that I’m putting him in the same category of American Pharoah and Arrogate,” Thomas said. “It seems like a good way to approach that race.”
Thomas said Catholic Boy would likely ship from Saratoga to Churchill “in the next week or two” and get four or five workouts over the main track in preparation for the Classic.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.