08/18/2011 2:38PM

Thistledown: Catlaunch faces toughest challenge of year in Honey Jay

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Tim Scaravilli

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio  – Catlaunch, who surpassed $1  million in earnings with his victory in the George Lewis Memorial here at Thistledown on July  16, will go for his fifth consecutive stakes win and try to stay perfect on the year when he faces eight Ohio-bred rivals in the $50,000 Honey Jay Stakes on Saturday,

Catlaunch is a 10-year-old gelding owned by his breeders, Scioto Farm, and trained by Ivan Vazquez. He has won 38 of his 87 career starts and earned $1,011,844.

Catlaunch faces his stiffest test of the year in the six-furlong Honey Jay, a race in which he finished fifth last year when beaten by Sneak a Cold Treat, one of his Saturday opponents. Although two of Catlaunch’s wins this year have come sprinting, at this stage of his career he may be slightly better going long. He must also carry 122 pounds in the Honey Jay and concede six pounds to the field.

Sneak a Cold has won two of his three starts this year, one at Thistledown and the other at Presque Isle Downs. He’s a multiple stakes winner of $232,096 and does his best running in sprints.

Burley’s Gold is an interesting rival who was claimed last out for $40,000 by top trainer Gerald Bennett while making his first start since 2009. This will be his first race against Ohio-bred company after previously running in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. Although he finished sixth in his comeback race at Presque Isle, he has since turned in three bullet works.

Beau Mec was consistent in the claiming ranks beore moving up to stakes company and pushing Catlaunch in the six-furlong Michael F. Rowland Stakes here, dropping a neck decision. He has since been unplaced in two Ohio-bred stakes.