05/07/2016 2:00PM

Catalina Red pulls 14-1 upset in Churchill Downs Stakes

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Ciara Bowen
Catalina Red wins the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes by a length over Calculator.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jorge Navarro has become a dominant trainer on the year-round racing circuit in south Florida, although his reach has started to extend to other corners of the racing world.

On Saturday, Navarro made his presence known on the big stage once again by winning the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard for the second straight year. Catalina Red, getting a perfect outside trip and ride under Javier Castellano, pulled a 14-1 upset in the $400,000 race.

Calculator was second, a length behind the winner, while Kobe’s Back and Salutos Amigos ran on late to be third and fourth, respectively, in a field of nine older horses.

Navarro, 41, has made his mark not only at Gulfstream – where he won 46 races at the recent championship winter meet, second only to perennial champion Todd Pletcher – but also with top-class horses such as Private Zone, an earner of $2.9 million who won the Churchill Downs by 4 1/4 lengths last year, and X Y Jet, who was second in the prestigious Dubai Golden Shaheen in March.

Catalina Red previously was based in Ocala, Fla., with trainer Chad Stewart. Owner Anthony Lenci asked Navarro to assume his training about a month ago.

Lenci “said, ‘I want to give this horse a chance. Will you train him?’ ” said Navarro, a Panama native whose father was a veterinarian. “I want to say that 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.”

Catalina Red, a 4-year-old by Munnings, returned $30.20 after coming just .35 of a second within the track record when finishing the seven-furlong distance in 1:20.79 over a fast track. The chestnut colt was coming off a victory in an April 9 restricted sprint stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. This was his fifth win from 10 overall starts, and his first in a graded event.

Limousine Liberal and Private Zone battled for early command in this 82nd running of the Churchill Downs, with Catalina Red poised to their outside and two others, Calculator and Speightster, tucked in close behind.

“It worked out perfect for me,” Castellano said. “Those two horses showed speed early in the race, and it was a good setup 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.”

After turning for home, as Limousine Liberal faded, Catalina Red got the best of Holy Boss, then had plenty left to outrun Calculator.

After the top four, the order was Holy Boss, Limousine Liberal, Squadron A, Speightster, and Barbados. The defeat was the first in four career starts for Speightster, a 4-year-old who was coming off a 10-month layoff when bet down to 3-1 favoritism.

The $2 exacta (9-3) paid $215, the $1 trifecta (9-3-1) returned $522.50, and the $1 superfecta (9-3-1-8) was worth $2,159.90.

The Churchill record for the distance was set in the 2012 Humana Distaff in which two-time Eclipse Award champion Groupie Doll went in 1:20.44.

Doug Bennett More than 1 year ago
Navarro had a 31% win rate overall and 25% in graded stakes going into this race. Catalina Red had won his last race with a 96 BSF, his first start as a 4yo after a 5m layoff, which suggested he might improve enough with a race under his belt to get the 2-3 lengths he'd need to match the 102-104 BSFs earned by the other logical starters in the race. Whether or not he was juiced, how could a handicapper not bet him at 14-1 (17.1 pre-takeout odds or a bettor-implied win probability of 5.4%)? Put differently, rather than hammering the chalk, why not bet a 20%-30% chance winner when other bettors think he has a 5% chance to win?
ryan More than 1 year ago
His horses ran well.  Maybe he's just better than these guys
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
you have to admire the carrot juice in the NAVARRO barn. that these guys are now juicing on big days and not getting caught is discouraging.
Ronald Friedman More than 1 year ago
jorge navarro is a first class cheat .way ahead of any test for any of his juice.
HayesLance More than 1 year ago
Until this sport gets a commissioner it will be tainted. I have been handicapping for many years and you cant handicap anymore with confidence. There are cheaters and until something is done, it will die a slow death. Horse racing has been a huge part of my life, but I am slowly walking away due to the unwilling efforts of the powers to be to stop the cheaters!!
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I feel the same way. if someone like me who played and watched the races everyday he could.  is slowly losing interest this sport is in big trouble. if they dont start seriously going after the crooks it over.soon.