Catholic Boy provided jockey Javier Castellano with his fifth Travers (G1) victory in the last nine years on Saturday, wearing down long-time leader Mendelssohn in the stretch to win the 1 1/4-mile $1.25 million "Midsummer Derby" at Saratoga by four lengths.
Applying steady pressure to Mendelssohn through fractions of :23.30, :47.81, and 1:11.97, Catholic Boy seized the lead approaching the quarter-pole and drew away to win in a time of 2:01.94 over a fast track. He paid $16.20.
This was the second graded stakes win on dirt for Catholic Boy, who convincingly captured the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct last December. His Kentucky Derby (G1) aspirations ended, however, after running second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and a distant fourth in the Florida Derby (G1).
Catholic Boy has won three of five starts on turf, including the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), Pennine Ridge (G3) and With Anticipation (G3). He was fourth to Mendelssohn in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last fall.
"It just doesn't get any better. I'm just so proud of this horse, and Javier was incredible," said Jonathan Thomas, who trains Catholic Boy for owner Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. "We've always believed that he's a top talent despite the surface. He's a much stronger, mature horse and this really shows that patience helps.
"It means we can survive another year and hopefully train some more like him, but right now, I'm just going to soak this up."
A ridgling son of More Than Ready and Song of Bernadette, by Bernardini, Catholic Boy was bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding. His record now stands at 9-6-1-0, $1,842,000.