09/07/2013 6:31PM

Arlington: Catalano maiden Solitary Ranger takes Arlington-Washington Futurity

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Solitary Ranger, making his first start since April and first beyond 4 1/2 furlongs, wins the Arlington-Washington Futurity by 5 1/2 lengths under Florent Geroux.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Solitary Ranger went for farm rest and recuperation this spring still a maiden, but when trainer Wayne Catalano began readying the colt for a second-half campaign, Catalano pointed for the Arlington-Washington Futurity rather than a race for nonwinners. And why not: Catalano won the 2010 Futurity with the maiden Major Gain, and he won it again Saturday when Solitary Ranger beat off a moderate challenge from Whyruawesome to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity by 5 1/2 lengths.

It was Catalano’s third official Futurity win (Jose Adan was disqualified from first in 2008), and this one had an even deeper Catalano imprimatur than the Major Gain maiden score: That horse had raced one month before the Futurity, while Solitary Ranger was making his first start since April. He also raced beyond 4 1/2 furlongs for the first time, finishing off his one-mile run with plenty of energy. None of it surprised his trainer.

“This was the race we were pointing for all along,” said Catalano, runaway leading trainer again here this summer.

Solitary Ranger came into the Futurity no ordinary maiden. At Keeneland, he ran second in his debut to a sharp Wesley Ward-trained horse named Pablo Del Monte. Ward afterward cautioned Catalano: He had a 2-year-old better than Pablo Del Monte ready to go. The man did not lie. Solitary Ranger’s second start came against No Nay Never, a colt who has since gone on to win two of the biggest 2-year-old races in Europe. Solitary Ranger made a decent stretch run at him before being turned back.

Saturday, Solitary Ranger had no one to pass in the homestretch. Solitary Ranger broke well for Florent Geroux and tugged hard at the bit while racing on the outside of Lotsa Mischief through a quarter in 22.89 seconds and a half in a solid 46.63, the pair separated from the other five runners. Solitary Ranger put Lotsa Mischief away on the turn, raced solo cornering at the quarter pole, and with a fair degree of ease turned back a midstretch challenge from Whyruawesome. The runner-up, coming off a good maiden win here, always was in the bridle for jockey Diego Sanchez, and despite lugging in at the eighth pole, appeared beaten by a superior foe while turning in a representative performance. The top two were far better than the rest, with third-home Cee ‘N O nearly seven lengths behind the place horse, and followed by Captain’s Affair, High Roll, Joedini, and Lotsa Mischief. Mighty Brown and Gone Mountain were scratched. Time for the Polytrack mile was 1:38.17, and Solitary Ranger – basically tri-favored with High Roll and Whyruawesome – paid $9.

Solitary Ranger is a son of first-crop sire U S Ranger and became just his second winner and first stakes winner. U S Ranger, a 9-year-old Danzig horse, was mainly campaigned overseas. Solitary Ranger, out of the Lil E Tee mare Galileo’s Star, went through three auctions, including two as a 2-year-old, but was sold only once, for $28,000 as a yearling in Florida. He was owned during his spring campaign by a partnership headed by Danny Pate, but was sold privately during his time away from the racetrack to Susan Moulton for $125,000, according to Catalano.

Solitary Ranger missed time after Keeneland because he was stepped on at the start of his second race, suffering a laceration above his left hind foot that required plenty of time to fully heal. Moulton had told Catalano last fall to be on the lookout for a 2-year-old who might run in important races. 

“She wanted a horse to go the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe we have a horse to go to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Catalano.