(Catholic Boy trained at Del Mar prior to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup / Photo Courtesy of Breeders’ Cup)

It had been awhile since Catholic Boy made his 2018 debut, running a game second to Flameaway in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. So long ago, in fact, that even I was getting a tad worried/perplexed with the training schedule and upcoming racing plans for the talented 3-year-old colt by More Than Ready and trained by the relative unknown trainer newbie, Jonathan Thomas.

But, finally, Catholic Boy — who won the G1 Remsen Statkes at Aqueduct in his first appearance on the dirt late last year after running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf — made an appearance this morning at the Bridlewood Farm training track. The colt breezed a half-mile in :48.40 over the dirt surface, which registered as the bullet work out of 3 to go the distance.

Afterwards, Thomas announced that he colt would make his next start in either one of three places:

  • The Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on March 24
  • The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31
  • or, The Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14

So, it was great to hear and see that the colt is alive and well. And, until we see or hear any reason to change our thoughts, we are sticking to our prediction: Catholic Boy is the one to beat with less than two months before the first Saturday in May.

But to say that conviction is written in stone would be like saying that a trainer is not apt to flip a jockey at the last second if a Hall of Famer becomes available nearing the Derby wire. What with the upset victory of Promises Fulfilled over Good Magic and others in the Fountain of Youth; what with the upset victory of Bravazo in the Risen Star Stakes; what with the emergence of Kanthaka in the San Vincente and now on the cusp of running in the Gotham Stakes this weekend?

All we can say at this point is stayed tuned. The channels are sure to change.

Here is a look at our Top 12 and Also Eligibles for this week:

Rank Horse Sire Trainer Jockey Last Start Next Start Comment
1 Catholic Boy More Than Ready Jonathan Thomas Manny Franco 2nd in Sam F. Davis / TAM Marcfh 31 — Florida Derby Ran Game Second in the Sam F. Davis Off Just 4 Works / Good Race Ove Speed Track
2 Free Drop Billy Union Rags Dale Romans Robby Albarado 2nd in Holy Bull /GP March 10 — Gotham Stakes Was Scratched From the Fountain of Youth / Now Gunning for the Gotham This Weekend
3 Bolt d’Oro Medaglia d’Oro Mick Ruis Javier Castellano 3rd BC Juvenile / Del Mar March 10 — San Felipe — SA Starting To Get Serious With Works / Can He Step Up?
4 McKenzie Street Sense Bob Baffert Mike Smith 1st Sham Stakes / SA March 10 — San Felipe — SA Worked Well at SA on March 4, Too/Ready to Go?
5 Solomini Curlin Bob Baffert Flavien Prat 3rd Los Alamitos Futurity / LA Undecided Worked Long at SA on March 4/Fired a Bullet/Looks Ready
6 Avery Island Street Sense Kiaran McLaughlin Joe Bravo 1st in Withers Stakes / AQU March 24 — Louisiana Derby Impressive in Withers/Speedster Showed Signs He Could Rate/Next Important
7 Audible Into Mischief Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano 1st in the Holy Bull Stakes/GP March 31 — Florida Derby Impressive In Holy Bull/Put Away All/Will He Extend Out If Pressed
8 Bravazo Awesome Again D. Wayne Lukas Miguel Mena 1st in G2 Risen Star / FG March 24 — Louisiana Derby Gutty performance in Risen Star / Can He Go the Distance?/
9 Justify Scat Daddy Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 1st in MSW / SA Undecided Caught racing’s attention with 91/2-length MSW win on 2/18/ Can He Repeat?
10 Instilled Regard Arch Jerry Hollendorfer Javier Castellano 1st LeComte Stakes / FG Undecided 4th in the G2 Risen Star, Yet Dull Throughout/ Throw Out Race?/ More like “Throw in Towel”
11 Sporting Chance Tiznow D. Wayne Lukas Luis Saez 3rd Southwest Stakes / OP April 14 — Arkansas Derby Most Impressive Runner in Southwest / Coming Off 51/2-Month Layoff/Very Nice
12 Good Magic Curlin Chad Brown Junior Ortiz 1st BC Juvenile / Del Mar March 31 — Florida Derby Didn’t Fire in FOY / But Speed Favoring Track, Right?/We Will See
AE Enticed Medaglia d’Oro Kiaran McLaughlin Junior Alvarado 4th in Holy Bull Undecided May Have Needed One Off Layoff/Never Made a Serious Move
AE Kanthaka Jimmy Creed Jerry Hollendorfer Flavien Prat 1st in San Vincente Stakes / SA March 10 — Gotham Stakes Very Impressive Closer To Date/Perfect Set-Up To Run At/Time to Prove Doubters Wrong
AE Flameaway Scat Daddy Mark Casse Jose Lezcano 1st in Sam F. Davis Stakes March 10 — Tampa Bay Derby Wired Field Over Speed-Favoring Track/Gutty/Versatile/Speedy/Can He Last?
AE Promises Fulfilled Dale Romans Irad Ortiz, Jr 1st in Fountain of Youth March 31 — Florida Derby Wire to Wire Winner of FOY/Speed Bias Had to Help, Right?/We Will See When Tested
AE Strike Power Speightstown Mark Hennig Luis Saez 1st in Swale Stakes /GP March 31 — Florida Derby Gutty Performance in FOY/Never Getting to Winner, But 1st Time Stretching Out/Next?
AE Restoring Hope Giant’s Causeway Bob Baffert Flavien Prat 1st in MSW Event / SA Undecided Impressive in MSW Win/Won by nearly 4 Lengths/Baffert says “ready”
AE Once On Whiskey Bodemeister Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 2nd in MSW Event / SA Undecided Late-Closer Impressed With Move in MSW on Feb 3/Enough Time?
AE Snapper Sinclair City Zip Steve Asmussen Adam Beschizza 2nd in G2 Risen Star / FG March 24 — Louisiana Derby Nearly Won at Long Odds in 2nd Try on Dirt/Getting Better Quickly
AE My Boy Jack Creative Cause J. Keith Desormeaux Kent Desormeaux 1st in G3 Southwest Stakes / OP April 14 — Arkansas Derby Skimmed the Rail to Win Southwest Stakes/Turf Horse on Dirt?