11/15/2007 1:00AM

The consistent Catlaunch a formidable threat

EmailCatlaunch will try to enhance his chances of winning the Ohio horse of the year award when he takes on eight other Ohio-accredited horses in the $50,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial Handicap at Beulah Park.

Catlaunch, trained by Ivan Vazquez, has finished in the top three in all nine of his races this year, winning five, with three seconds and a third. Most recently, in the $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance on Oct. 6, Catlaunch set torrid early fractions before tiring in the 1o1/4-mile event to finish third, beaten 2o3/4 lengths. Prior to the Endurance, Catlaunch won the $75,000 Governor's Buckeye Cup at Thistledown on Sept. 3.

Hector Rosario Jr., the jockey for three of Catlaunch's five wins this year, gets the mount.

Two of the entrants in the Ruff/Kirchberg upset Catlaunch earlier this year. Acts Like a King, trained by Kris Nemann, beat Catlaunch in the $50,000 George Lewis Memorial at Thistledown on July 14, run at the same 1 1/8-mile distance of the Ruff/Kirchberg. Acts Like a King earned a Beyer Figure of 94 in the Lewis Memorial. But he has not run well in his last two outs. Acts Like a King will be ridden by Ramon Luna.

Smarmy was an upset winner in his last race, the Best of Ohio Endurance. Smarmy benefited from the fast early fractions set by Catlaunch and closed to win by two lengths, paying $87. The Endurance was the first stake victory for Smarmy and his fourth win of the year.