Catholic Boy Re-Acclimates to Surroundings
Strike Power put in his final workout for the Florida Derby this morning at Gulfstream Park, and it was a bulltet.
Working in company with regular exercise rider Juan Oyola up, Strike Power was clocked in 47.87 (1/27) for four furlongs. His workmate, 3-year-old grass maiden Mathematician, was timed in 48.67 (9/27).
“It was pretty much what we were looking for," said trainer Mark Hennig. "The main thing was, I didn’t really even care if he was in company today, I just kind of wanted to make sure he started off on the inside and, because he’s such a horse that can turn on and off, I wanted to make sure he knew he was breezing. I wanted a little crisper breeze. I told the rider to go in 47 and 4 and that’s what he did so I was happy with that.”
Today's move was the second work for Strike Power since finishing a close second to Promises Fulfilled in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 3, his first try around two turns.
“I’ve worked him in company. I’ve worked him with horses and behind horses,” Hennig said. “The main thing today was I just wanted that horse to be with him for the first part of the work to make sure that he was doing enough the first part of the work. I could see going to the pole that he was plenty sharp enough.
“We’re good. All of our preparations have kind of gone as planned. We’ve just got to hope our preparations are right,” he added. “The horse is doing well and seemed to come out of it well and cooled out well. If everything goes good, I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Hennig said he was not overly concerned with post position heading into the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, and he's happy Luis Saez gave up a mount on Gunnevera in the $10 million Dubai World Cup to stay aboard Strike Power.
“I’m not that nervous about it. I think he’ll break a lot sharper this time,” Hennig said. “I think, and Luis said this, too, that he was a little distracted by the crowd last time. It was kind of new to him, and he was looking around a lot. I think that he didn’t break as sharp as usual, but I would anticipate he will break a little sharper this time so we’ll see what happens.”
Catholic Boy Back at Gulfstream
Catholic Boy (photo by Lauren King), who launched his career with a 7 1/2-length debut victory on turf at Gulfstream Park last July, is back.
The Jonathan Thomas-trained colt visited Gulfstream’s main track for a 1 1/8-mile gallop this morning after arriving from Bridlewood Farm yesterday afternoon.
“He travelled in really well. Normally, he needs a day or two to scope out a place, but he summered here so he settled right in, ate up nicely, and I thought he trained well this morning. He seemed happy,” Thomas said.
Thomas said Catholic Boy will likely have his final workout for the Florida Derby Sunday morning. Thomas is hopeful that the colt, a winner on both turf and dirt, will take to Gulfstream’s dirt track as well as he took to the turf course last summer.
“Obviously, we’re going to learn a lot when we breeze him Sunday, but he has traditionally trained well over this race track,” Thomas said.
Irad Ortiz Jr. is slated to ride Catholic Boy for the first time in the Florida Derby.
Edited Gulfstream Park release