Breeders' Cup - At The Races


Catholic Boy
  • Trainer: Jonathan Thomas
  • Likely Jockey: Manny Franco
  • Owner: Robert V LaPenta
  • Age & Breeding: 2-year-old colt; More Than Ready – Song Of Bernadette
  • Season Form Figures: 11
  • Career Highlight: Overcoming an poor trip to land the With Anticipation.

American thoroughbred racing and feel-good stories seem to go hand in hand, and at every major meeting there are a glut of tales that could provide the basis of a script that would have the film producers in nearby Hollywood salivating. Amongst this year's narratives, trainer Jonathan Thomas stands out.

Thomas was originally a stakes-winning jump jockey until a severe fall in May of 2000 left him paralyzed. Doctors told him he would never walk again, yet just six years later Thomas was riding in races once more. The injuries suffered in his fall ultimately prevented Thomas reaching the heights he had previously scaled as a rider, and set him down a path that has led to him conditioning leading Juvenile Turf contender Catholic Boy.

Almost all top trainers serve an apprenticeship under a great one and Thomas could hardly have had a better master than Todd Pletcher. Pletcher, himself, was assistant to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas and Thomas looks set to continue this illustrious racing lineage.

Thomas has a 30% strike-rate this season and clearly looks a highly promising trainer. Only appropriate, then, that he should have a high promising horse.

Catholic Boy took a maiden at Gulfstream Park on his debut by a widening two length margin, but was relatively unfancied for the With Anticipation stakes at Saratoga, despite his trainer's impressive win percentage. Benefiting from a perfect trip until the lane, Catholic Boy found his path blocked as they turned into the straight. He was switched out sharply and found daylight, before being nursed closer under tender handling. Eventually jockey Manny Franco had to get serious, but Catholic Boy responded to the whip and really ran through the line. He was strong on the gallop out there and the form has been franked nicely by the third, Untamed Domain, as well as Seabhac, who went on to win the Pilgrim.

Catholic Boy has been handed a favourable draw and the European opposition does not look as strong as it was when U S Navy Flag was pre-entered. There's every chance that this son of More Than Ready can give this story a fairytale ending.