Anthony Lenci’s Catalina Red put away a stubborn Holy Boss at the eighth pole and then held off bids from Calculator and Kobe’s Back to win the 82nd running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs Presented by TwinSpires.com (GII) for 4-year-olds and up by a length.
Trained by Jorge Navarro and ridden by Javier Castellano, Catalina Red covered the seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:20.79. It was the second consecutive win in the race for Navarro, who saddled Private Zone last year.
Limousine Liberal led the field of nine through fractions of :22.24 and :44.64 with Holy Boss in closest pursuit and Catalina Red sitting in the second flight.
As the field hit the top of the stretch, Catalina Red moved three wide to collar Limousine Liberal and Holy Boss with Limousine Liberal the first one of the three to check out. Catalina Red drew clear of Holy Boss at the eighth pole and had enough left to turn back Calculator and a fast-closing Kobe’s Back.
The victory, the first graded stakes triumph for Catalina Red, was worth $297,600 and boosted the 4-year-old’s bankroll to $469,885 with a record of 10-5-1-2.
Catalina Red is a Florida-bred son of Munnings out of the Freud mare Lovely Dream.
Catalina Red returned $30.20, $13.80 and $7.40. Calculator, ridden by Junior Alvarado, returned $7 and $4.40 with Kobe’s Back finishing three-quarters of a length back in third under Gary Stevens and paying $3.60 to show.
It was another three-quarters of a length back to Salutos Amigos in fourth with Holy Boss, Limousine Liberal, Squadron A, Speightster and Barbados following in order.
CHURCHILL DOWNS QUOTES
Javier Castellano (rider of Catalina Red, winner) – "A very good set-up. It worked out perfect for me. Those two horses showed speed early in the race, and it was a good set-up for me. A good post outside. I like it the way he did it turning for home. When I asked him, he took off really well.''
Jorge Navarro (trainer of Catalina Red, winner) – “This is my race, my race. I have to be honest with you, I’ve only been training this horse for a month. The owner (Anthony Lenci) asked me to take him. He said, ‘I want to give this horse a chance. Will you train him?’ I want to say that (former trainer) Chad Stewart did a fabulous job with this horse. The owner had a lot of confidence in this horse. We only had a month to get him ready for this race, but he trained great for it. We’ll see how he comes out of the race before we decide where he’ll go next.”
Junior Alvarado (rider of Calculator, runner-up) – “Good race for him and a good trip for me. He likes it on the outside. I wish we would have broken from them. But what are you going to do. It was a good race for the horse.”
Gary Stevens (rider of Kobe’s Back, third-place finisher) – “He was back to the old ‘Kobe’ – breaking bad. He almost dwelt coming out of there. Then it was like he wasn’t interested for the first three-eighths of a mile. On the turn he got serious and hit the afterburners and really came on. But it’s frustrating with him.”