09/30/2010 2:56PM

Catlaunch once again star of Best of Ohio

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Ohio-breds will be center stage at Thistledown on Saturday when the Best of Ohio series is held for the 24th time. The Best of Ohio comprises five stakes, four with purses of $75,000, and the $50,000 Sprint.

The remarkable 9-year-old Catlaunch will be making his seventh appearance in the series, and will be favored in the 1 1/4-mile Endurance.
Catlaunch won the Enurance in 2008 and has a 3-2-1 record from seven starts at the distance. He has won four of his eight races this year, including three stakes, and has earned $135,018. His lifetime record now stands at 33-16-9 from 80 starts with earnings of $838,554.

Catlaunch’s chances of winning were greatly improved when Sneak a Cold Treat, who beat him in this race last year and also in the six-furlong Honey Jay Stakes here Aug.  20, was entered in the Sprint .

Even though Catlaunch may be challenged for the early lead, he figures to be hard to handle.

Bred and owned by Scioto Farms, Catlaunch is trained by Ivan Vazquez and will be ridden by Luis Gonzalez.

Catlaunch’s main competition should come from Pyrite Personal and That’s a Heckofacat.

* The nine-furlong Distaff shapes up as match race between Slides Choice and Pay the Man. Last year, Slides Choice beat Pay the Man by a nose in this race. These two hooked up again in the 1 1/8-mile Rose DeBartolo Memorial here on Aug.  28 and raced as a team the final mile, never separated by more than a head until the wire, with Slides Choice winning by a neck.

Pay the Man, 6, is the all-time top money-winning Ohio-bred filly or mare with earnings of $591,981. She is owned and was bred by the Pyrite Stable and is trained by Miguel Feliciano. Her regular rider Ricky Feliciano will be in the irons.

Slides Choice, 4, has earned $428,465 in her 21 starts and if she stays healthy will have a chance to challenge Pay the Man’s earnings record. Tim Hamm trains for Mary Crawford and Gerald Brown. Jason Lumpkins has the mount.

* Sneak a Cold Treat is avoiding Catlaunch by going in the Sprint, but will still will have to tangle with Ohio sprint champion Tri Uimet and Royal Nemesis, who has finished third in the last three runnings of the Sprint.

* The Juvenile Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings and the John Galbreath Memorial for fillies will both be decided over 1 1/16 miles.

The probable Juvenile favorite is No Garlic, winner of Hoover Stakes and third in the Cleveland Kindergarten.

Hamm has a strong hand in the Galbreath, as he will saddle six of the 11 entrants, including a four-horse entry. His best horse is Startin Something, winner of both the Tah Dah at River Downs and the Miss Ohio here at Thistledown.