10/13/2011 2:15PM

Thistledown: Five stakes on Best of Ohio card


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio – The 25th renewal of the Best of Ohio series of five stakes for Ohio-breds will offer $350,000 in purses on Saturday’s eight-race card at Thistledown. The races traditionally play a strong role in determining year-end Ohio-bred divisional champions.

Recently turned millionaire Catlaunch heads a field of eight 3 year olds and up in the day’s centerpiece, the $75,000 Best of Ohio Endurance. Bred by his owner, the Scioto Farm, 10-year-old Catlaunch has been ultra consistent with a lifetime record of 38-17-9 from 89 starts and earnings of $1,015,844 He won the 1  1/4-mile Endurance in 2010 and 2008.

He started out this year with four consecutive stakes wins, then was fifth in the Honey Jay and fourth in his last start, the Sept. 10 Governor’s Buckeye Handicap. He prepped for this race Oct. 7 at Beulah Park by breezing a mile in 1:43.60.

Ohio’s winningest stakes rider of the year, Luis Gonzalez, will once again be aboard for trainer Ivan Vazquez.

The main opposition should come from Bold Captain and Raise the Reward. Bold Captain won The Governor’s Buckeye, beating Catlaunch, and most recently was second in an optional claiming race Sept. 24.

Raise the Reward finished second to Catlaunch in this race last year and finished fifth most recently behind Bold Captain here Sept. 24. He prepped with a bullet work here Oct. 10, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.60.

Distaff: Pay the Man on a streak

Pay the Man is looking for her fifth consecutive win and fourth straight stakes in the $75,000 Distaff. A 7 year old, Pay the Man has won 14 of 19 Thistledown starts while finishing second five times. Overall, she is 20 for 50, with earnings of $749,000, Of that amount, $553,000 has been earned locally.

Pay the Man finished second in the 1 1/18-mile Distaff last year, beaten a nose by Slides Choice, who was recently retired. Pay the Man won the Distaff in 2008. Gonzalez will ride for trainer Miguel Feliciano.

Muir Woods could have the best chance of upsetting. She was second behind Pay the Man in the nine-furlong Rose DeBartolo here Sept. 3, beaten 3 1/2 lengths.

Sprint: ‘Cold Treat’ enters off layoff

In the $50,000 Best of Ohio Sprint, for 3 year olds and upward going six furlongs, Sneak a Cold Treat will try for his third win in a row.

Sneak a Cold Treat is trained by Ohio’s winningest trainer of 2011, Jamie Ness, and will be ridden by Yamil Rosario.

Sneak a Cold Treat hasn’t raced since winning the Honey Jay Stakes on Aug. 20 but has been training forwardly. He finished second to Tri Uimet in this race last year and won the Best of Ohio Endurance in 2009.

Perfectly Played and Klassy Korbin appear to be the top two opponents. Perfectly Played finished third in this race last year and the steadily improving Klassy Korbin took the measure of Perfectly Played in a six-furlong allowance race here Sept. 15. Both horses are trained by Jeff Radosevich.

◗ Not an Altar Boy tops a field of 13 2 year olds in the $75,000 Best of Ohio Juvenile Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. He enters off a length victory over License to Bling following a stretch-long drive in a mile and 40-yard allowance race here Sept. 26. License to Bling will once again look to contest the lead with Not an Altar Boy on Saturday.

◗ Motega, undefeated and a three-time stakes winner from four starts, heads a field of seven 2-year-old fillies in the $75,000 John W. Galbreath Stakes. Private Cause appears to be the strongest threat as part of a three-horse entry from trainer Tim Hamm. She finished second to Motega in her most recent start on Aug. 27.