12/06/2014 7:32PM

Catholic Cowboy gives Zito second straight Jewel victory

Bob Coglianese
Catholic Cowboy pays $37.80 for upsetting the Claiming Crown Jewel under Luis Saez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.-  Nick Zito, king of the Claiming Crown?

Hard to argue that statement after Zito, two-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, captured the main event on Saturday’s Claiming Crown program at Gulfstream Park, the $200,000 Jewel, for the second consecutive year with the 17-1 Catholic Cowboy. Zito won the 2013 Jewel with Nevada Kid.

Catholic Cowboy outlasted the late-striding Page McKenney by a half-length with the pacesetting Cerro finishing another neck  back in third.         

Catholic Cowboy was gelded after finishing seventh in a second level optional claiming race at Keeneland on Oct.  12. A 4-year-old son of Heatseeker, Catholic Cowboy lost his first eight career starts before finally winning  his maiden under a $50,000 claiming tag here in January. 

Catholic Cowboy($37.80) rated within easy striking distance of Cerro,  who set the pace as expected while stalked from the outset by King’s Over. Jockey Luis Saez angled Catholic Cowboy four wide rallying into the stretch. Catholic Cowboy wore down the tiring leader near the sixteenth pole and then withstood the final surge of Page McKenney.

“Gulfstream has always been a good, lucky track for us,” Zito said after the race. “Naturally I’d like to win another Kentucky Derby, but at the end of the day, if this is what the good Lord wants, and I win these things every year, it’s not so bad.”

Zito said Catholic Cowboy “went a little funny on us,” which is the reason he had him gelded after his previous start.

“It got his mind back to where it was supposed to be,” said Zito. “He worked great for the race, and Luis [Saez] never gave up on him. He gave him a great trip and that was the key.”

Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
You have to buy DRF+++ to get the gelding symbol in the past performances!!
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Thanks, Michael... So when we buy at the newsstand we might be short on info.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Thanks Mike Welsch, BUT in the DRF advance edition, is this horse(!) listed as a gelding?
ED Broome More than 1 year ago
ED Broome More than 1 year ago
congradulations nena
slewof damascus More than 1 year ago
I liked this "colt" a couple races back at KEE and was quite surprised when he failed to fire. While I didn't take the bait when he showed up 7 days later shortening up, I did take note of Zito's comments prior to that race (showing surprise that he hadn't run a step in the previous start). This race followed the pattern of his previous win, similar layoff, same specialty distance, and a beyer-fit. And, of course, the odds were much juicier than the last time I liked him. Having watched innumerable races, I can usually tell if I have a live horse by the half-way point if not sooner. In this race, Catholic Cowboy fooled me. He was okay in the initial stages, flashing some early zip, forwardly placed, but when he began to fall back and get passed on the outside (going from 4th to 7th place) he looked a loser. But then the rider dropped him to the rail and really asked him the question, and he got back into the race (surprisingly), and by the time they were half way around the far turn he was 4th again and threatening to become a player. He continued his advance by switching off the rail and going 5 wide into the stretch (based on his trip to this point, I thought he was likely going to get on-terms then flatten when the real deciding-action unfolded), and he surprised me showing a good turn of foot at the top of the stretch, switching leads on cue to leave the frontrunner in his wake by the eighth pole. The final sixteenth was about hanging on, which he did masterfully. This is a race that CC can build off of and hopefully he comes out of the race with a lot of confidence and zeal. Great training job here. Congrats to connections.