Say what you want about the decision to send Catholic Boy to the Breeders’ Cup Classic directly off the win in the Travers. From my perspective, if you question the decision, you are questioning the judgment of a trainer who seems to have this horse figured out and headed in the right direction. So if Jonathan Thomas says it’s the right move, I gotta believe him.
Anytime we are dealing with a race at 10F, we have to start by asking which horses will handle the distance, and which will not. It’s an easy answer with Catholic Boy. If his win at 9F as a 2yo wasn’t evidence enough, he’s won twice at the Breeders’ Cup Classic distance in his last two starts. Once on grass, and once on dirt. How about class? He’s a dual-Grade 1 winner. Check. How about versatility? He seems to have early speed when he needs it, and he can rate when necessary. Check check. And even if you believe Mendelssohn wasn’t at his best in the Travers, the way Catholic Boy handled him in the final 1/4 mile combined with Catholic Boy’s own right to keep progressing leads me to believe Catholic Boy is the better play of the two at Churchill Downs, regardless of how big Mendelssohn ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
But there are others, obviously. Top contenders Accelerate, West Coast, McKinzie, and even Mind Your Biscuits have put up better Beyer Speed Figures going a route of ground than Catholic Boy, if BSFs are your thing. So a play on Catholic Boy in the Breeders’ Cup carries an element of betting on the come, so to speak. You know he’s talented. You know he’s classy. You know he’ll get the distance. You just don’t know if he’s better than the others. That said, you know he won’t be favored given the way this race is shaping up. Does that mean we’ll get 10-1? We might. And I won’t be talking anyone out of taking that risk. That’s for sure.