05/08/2017 10:56AM

Death of Catalano's brother worsened tough weekend

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Wayne Catalano's Farrell finished last among 14 in the Kentucky Oaks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It was a rough weekend at Churchill Downs for Wayne Catalano, and not just because his stable star, Farrell, finished last of 14 in the Kentucky Oaks.

Earlier in the week, Catalano lost his older brother. Joe Catalano, a longtime stable employee who was living in their native New Orleans, suffered an apparent heart attack and died at 63.

“We’re having a memorial Mass for him back home” on May 16, Wayne Catalano said early Monday. “Everybody liked Joe Cat. He’s really going to be missed.”

Joe Catalano, who is survived by a son and a daughter, worked primarily as an exercise rider after briefly riding races for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg in the 1970s. He mostly worked for his brother in subsequent years, with the eventual 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, being his most prized morning mount. Wayne Catalano trained Animal Kingdom as a 2-year-old before the horse was turned over to Graham Motion.

“Joe Cat was as good a hand on a horse as anybody,” Wayne Catalano said.

Meanwhile, grief was compounded by disappointment with the Oaks performance of Farrell, the 9-2 second choice. Seemingly in an ideal spot when tracking the dueling leaders, Paradise Woods and Miss Sky Warrior, down the backstretch, Farrell began to falter before they did. She finished 48 lengths behind the victorious Abel Tasman.

Catalano said Farrell was to be vanned to the Rood and Riddle clinic in Lexington on Tuesday, with an examination by Dr. Larry Bramlage scheduled for Wednesday. Farrell, bred and owned by Coffeepot Stables, entered the Oaks having won her four previous races, all stakes, by comfortable margins.

“She’s absolutely perfect,” Catalano said. “From what I can tell, there’s no reason to look at her, but we’re going to do it just because. She’ll have a bone scan because sometimes those things don’t show up anywhere else. She didn’t care for the sloppy track is what I think went wrong, but we’re going to give her this rundown because we can.”