11/10/2011 2:03PM

Beulah Park: Catlaunch formidable foe in Ruff-Kirchberg Handicap


GROVE CITY, Ohio – Catlaunch will be heavily favored to win the $50,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial Handicap at Beulah Park on Saturday when he faces six other Ohio-accredited older horses.

Catlaunch, a 10-year-old gelding, has tailed off in his last three races after winning his first four starts of the year. A return to the Ohio-accredited level may be just what the multiple Ohio champion needs to return to his winning ways.

Catlaunch finished fifth in the Honey Jay on Aug. 20, fourth in the Governor’s Buckeye Cup on Sept. 10, and second in the Best of Ohio Endurance on Oct. 15. All three races were at Thistledown. Ohio-accredited races are more restrictive than Ohio-bred races as both the sire and dam must reside in Ohio.

Trained by Ivan Vazquez, Catlaunch surpassed the $1 million in earnings this season, with nearly all of his 38 lifetime wins coming in the Buckeye State. Catlaunch will carry 124 pounds and give his rivals from seven to 13 pounds. His regular rider, Luis Gonzalez, will be aboard.

Raise the Reward has the best chance to upset Catlaunch. Trained by Tim Hamm, Raise the Reward finished second to Catlaunch in the 2010 Best of Ohio Endurance and seems to be back to the top of his game after being hand-ridden to a win Oct. 29 at Thistledown in a statebred optional-claiming event. Cesar Camaque will ride.

Powerball Two, Ramblin Mike, Key Low Beau Mec, and Heisman Star complete the field.