09/02/2010 3:35PM

Catlaunch may be alone on lead in Governor's Buckeye Cup


Saturday’s $75,000 Governor’s Buckeye Cup Stakes at Thistledown looks like a walk in the park for Catlaunch, who will face six Ohio-bred rivals going 1 1/4 miles.

Catlaunch, a 9-year-old multiple stakes winner, will be competing in the Buckeye Cup for the fourth straight year. He won in 2007 and then dropped two close photo decisions to Smarmy, who is running in the race again this year.

Catlaunch, who has won 32 of 79 starts and $793,544, is a two-time stakes winner from seven starts this season. He should have little problem dictating the pace from start to finish.

Catlaunch, trained by Ivan Vasquez, will be ridden by Luis Gonzalez.

Smarmy is a question mark in the race. He has made five starts this year, winning once over $10,000 claimers at Presque Isle Downs on June 16. On July 28, trainer Jamie Ness claimed him out of a third-place finish for $5,000 at Presque Isle. Ness ran him back for $7,500, but he was beaten 12 lengths. Ness is a high-percentage trainer, and has won 24 of 45 starts – 45 percent – at Thistledown this season. If he feels that Smarmy is ready to run against this competition, you have to respect his judgment.

Smarmy will be ridden by Thistledown’s leading rider, Yamil Rosario.

The main opposition for Catlaunch should come from the 3-year-old gelding Busha, who will be running with older horses for the first time. He has won two stakes this year, the Horizon and Green Carpet, both on the grass at River Downs. Busha has the speed to be with the pace and could prove to be tough to handle.