05/28/2008 12:00AM

Catlaunch seeks Rowland repeat


Catlaunch, the reigning Ohio-bred handicap horse of the year, will attempt to win his second straight Michael F. Rowland Memorial Handicap at Thistledown on Friday.

The $50,000 race honors the Thistledown riding champion who lost his life as a result of injuries suffered in a spill at Turfway Park in 2004.

Catlaunch, a durable 7-year-old gelding, was bred by his owner, Scioto Farm, and has posted a 22-10-7 record from 57 starts for earnings of $458,778. He is a perfect 2 for 2 this year with wins in the Edward Babst Memorial Handicap at Beulah Park on May 3 and an allowance race at Beulah on March 29. Both races were at six furlongs, the same distance as the Rowland.

Catlaunch's forte is speed, and he appears to be the quickest in this six-horse field and should have little difficulty making the lead. He is the highweight at 126 pounds and will spot his rivals as many as 14 pounds. Trainer Ivan Vazquez has engaged the riding services of Ivan Gonzalez.

Catlaunch's main opposition should come from the M.Y. Stables Inc. entry of Go Johnny Go and Ramblin Mike.

Go Johnny Go was second behind Catlaunch in this race last year, beaten 3 1/2 lengths. He has made two starts this year, including a second-place finish in an allowance sprint at Beulah Park on April 8. He carries 117 pounds and will be ridden by Victor Urieta.

Ramblin Mike was steadily gaining ground to be fourth to Catlaunch in the Babst. Luis Antonio Gonzalez will ride for trainer Michael Nance at 116.