The four-year-old Catholic Boy makes just his third start of the year in the $200,000 Knickerbocker (G2) on Monday and a strong performance could send him to the Breeders’ Cup.
The Jonathan Thomas trainee is a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt, so his connections have options on which Breeders’ Cup race he could end up participating in.
The colt was 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last year at 5-1. He could end up this year in the Dirt Mile, the Mile on turf, or perhaps another crack at the Classic.
“If he runs well it’s a good platform into a possible Breeders’ Cup start,” Thomas said. “It’s a bit of a learning experience on where we’re at with him at the moment, but we’ve been happy with his training. We’re one step at a time, but it’ll point to where to go.”
Catholic Boy is the 7-5 morning line favorite and has won five of his six career starts on turf. However, he faces several formidable foes on Monday.
The eight-year-old Glorious Empire (9-2) makes his second start off a layoff and won four of his six starts last year including the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga. Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado has the call for trainer James Lawrence.
“I hope he’s the same horse that he was last year,” Lawrence said. “I was a little disappointed that we went after the horse on the lead last time. He was on the lead at the seven-eighths and went 1:21 flat which was nice to see. Since then he’s trained forwardly, eating well and he looks good. It all comes down to pace, so we’ll see how it sets up.”
Lucullan (5-2) was beaten just a length in the Woodbine Mile (G1) in his last outing, getting disqualified and placed fourth for interference in deep stretch.
The Columbus Day card kicks off at 1:15 ET. The Knickerbocker goes off as the eighth race on the nine-race card.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Monday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 8 The Knickerbocker (G2) Post time 5:11 ET
2 Glorious Empire 9-2
3 Lucullan 5-2
7 Catholic Boy 7-5
5 Olympico 8-1
The James Lawrence trainee makes his second start off a nine-month layoff. Last out off the bench the gelding tracked the early pace, took over the lead and then weakened to finish sixth, beaten two lengths in the Baltimore Washington Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel Park. The gelding won 4 of 6 starts last year as a seven-year-old, capping off the year by winning the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) last December earning a career top speed fig. A total of six runners exited that race to win stakes in their next starts. The gelding is perfect in his two starts at nine furlongs and has shown he can win up to 1 ½ miles, taking the Sword Dancer (G1) at that distance last year. He reunites with Prado who was aboard him for two of his wins last year.
The Godolphin runner came with a good late rally to finish third in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last out but was DQ’d to fourth for drifting out and causing interference in deep stretch. He came into that race off a win in the restricted Lure, his first career stakes win and second start off a long layoff. He can handle the stretch out to nine furlongs. He was beaten just a neck at the distance in the Hill Prince (G3) back in the fall of ’17 here. He has earned consistent numbers over hi three starts this year and looks capable of moving forward with the extra furlong.
The 2018 Travers (G1) winner makes his first start off a three-month break, running second in the Suburban (G2) on the main track at Belmont Park going 1 ¼ miles in his last outing. This guy is a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt. He has won 5 of his 6 starts on turf including both of his outings on the grass here including winning the Belmont Derby (G1) last summer. The Thomas barn is 37% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180-day break. A big performance here and the connections plan on bringing him back in a Breeders’ Cup race, the Mile, Dirt Mile or even the Classic. His best is good enough to beat this group, but his price is going to end up on the short side.