Catholic Boy has signed off another triumphant year for More Than Ready with a powerful four-length victory in Saturday’s Remsen Stakes-Gr.2 at Aqueduct.
Not for the first time, More Than Ready has dominated the juvenile division in North America and Catholic Boy’s connections are already looking ahead to the classics after he earned 10 qualifying points on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’.
Perth trainer Dan Morton is also planning for the future with his More Than Ready filly Nocelle following her convincing win in the Crystal Slipper Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. She will spell and return for a campaign targeting the 2018 Karrakatta Plate-Gr.2.
The Vinery champion is Living Legend among the all-time great stallions. He has sired 177 stakes winners and is just one behind Mr Prospector in the Top 5 behind Danehill, Sadler’s Wells, Galileo & Danzig.
Catholic Boy struck at stakes level for the first time in the With Anticipation Stakes-Gr.3 at Saratoga in August and then recovered from a tardy start to finish fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-Gr.1 at Del Mar.
“We were quietly confident but never expected that,” trainer Jonathon Thomas admitted after the hollow victory. “We were really happy with how he exited the Breeders’ Cup. We brought him back to New York on a direct flight and got two nice works into him at Belmont Park.”
Catholic Boy (2c More Than Ready – Bernadette by Bernardini) cruised mid-pack in the Remsen and then found clear sailing to take over at the 300m pole. “Jonathon told me to break out running before the first turn,” jockey Manny Franco said. “The horse put me in a good position and, when I called on him to run, he just went.”
The Remsen roll-call includes thoroughbred icon Northern Dancer and 1990s winners Go For Gin & Thunder Gulch also doubled up in the Kentucky Derby.
More Than Ready had opened his Australian 2yo account this season when Nocelle scored on debut at Ascot last month and she reprised that win on Winterbottom Stakes day.
“That was a good effort from a difficult draw,” Morton said after the Crystal Slipper. “She was cluttered up on the corner but was good enough to get out of trouble. We will put her aside now and come back for the better races next year.”
Nocelle (2f More Than Ready – Harmony Hall by Minardi) is from a half-sister to NZ Group 2 winners Belle Femme (Zeditave) and Flying Babe (Flying Spur). Her older half -sister Belle De Coeur (Show A Heart) completed a hat-trick at Rosehill prior to Group 2 placings at Randwick and Eagle Farm in 2014.
“She found again when the second horse loomed up,” jockey Chris Parnham stated. “She’s still green and changed course on me in the straight. But she’s a professional with a nice turn of foot.”
More Than Ready has 42 yearlings catalogued for the Gold Coast Magic Millions in January. His fillies from Vinery includes a sister to stakes winning stallion Better Than Ready (Lot 268) and a filly from Toorak Hcp-Gr.1 winner Allez Wonder (Lot 488).
Vinery’s More Than Ready colts are headed by a close relation to Sandown Guineas-Gr.2 winner Villermont (Lot 458) and a colt from Gimcrack Stakes-LR winner Hussousa (Lot 812).