Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) came out of his victory in Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. in good order and trainer Jonathan Thomas was contemplating how best to get his charge to the Nov. 3 GI Breeders' Cup Classic.
“He cooled out nicely, ate up well last night and looked like he had good energy this morning, so all in all, he exited that race in good order,” said Thomas.
Thomas said the Oct. 6 GII Hill Prince S. at 1 1/8 miles over the Belmont turf was Catholic Boy's most likely option as a prep for the Classic, but that the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup a week earlier was also a possibility, as would letting Catholic Boy train up to the race in Kentucky.
“The Hill Prince seems to make sense right now; it's against his own age group, cutting back an eighth of a mile and on what I would call just a little bit of a kinder surface,” Thomas said. “I don't know whether we want to go running against Diversify (Bellamy Road) [in the Jockey Club Gold Cup], as quick as he is. I don't know if that's something I feel good about. This horse [also] has the ability to come off the bench running. If we needed to add time, that's OK. We'll let the next couple of weeks tell us.”
Catholic Boy gave Thomas his first graded stakes victory last summer when winning the GIII With Anticipation S. over the Saratoga turf.
“[Last year,] the Travers would have been the last thing on our mind,” Thomas said. “We thought we had a nice, two-turn grass horse, which was perfectly fine. We've had this horse since he was a weanling, and to see his development … it's like [having drafted] an NFL player out of elementary school.”
Travers runner-up Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) was also in fine shape Sunday morning and is expected to train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
“Even after his race yesterday, I had him down at the test barn, and he pulled the arms on me and he was still whinnying, so the race couldn't have taken that whole amount out of him because he had his dinner last night, he's straight into his breakfast, he's showing the signs that he's in a good place,” said T.J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Calumet Farm homebred Bravazo (Awesome Again), third in the Travers, will likely make his next start in the Sept. 22 GI Pennsylvania Derby.
“The horse is consistent,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said of the colt. “He's probably the most consistent of any of the 3-year-olds other than Justify, who did it all, but he shows up. He'll probably be one of the few that will be in the Pennsylvania Derby. He came back great. He cleaned up, he looked good this morning. If they ran it next week, I could wheel him back.”
“If Gronkowski got back to Belmont and he's training really well and everything goes good, [the Jockey Club Gold Cup] seems like a logical spot for him given the distance,” Brown said. “And he ran so well [when second] in the [GI] Belmont S. [As for] Good Magic, I haven't given any thoughts on him until I see the horse a couple of days removed from the race.”