John Thomas, Son Of VEA Track Superintendent, Gets First Graded Stakes Win August 30th

The following appeared in The Paulick Report August 30th. Trainer John Thomas is the son of Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) Track Superintendent John Dale Thomas.

Catholic Boy navigated a tough break and late traffic to win the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga on Wednesday, giving Jonathan Thomas his first graded stakes win as trainer. Jockey Manuel Franco kept the colt tucked along the inside rail in mid-pack for much of the 1 1/16-mile contest after being bumped at the start, then found a gap on the final turn to overtake tiring early leaders Earth and Trumpi. The final time was 1:40.94 for the race, which was Franco’s third win on the card.

Catholic Boy’s win in the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes gave trainer John Thomas his first graded stakes win. Photo by Chelsea Durand.

The race was the second career start for Catholic Boy, who won a maiden special weight for owner Robert LaPenta at Gulfstream Park in July.

Thomas, former assistant to Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement, is a retired jockey who piloted two graded stakes winners in his professional career, which was cut short in 2000 due to an injury.

Catholic Boy is the son of More Than Ready and Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette and was bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Heitrich III and John D. Fielding.

Irish Territory (IRE) finished second, followed by Untamed Domain.

See the full chart here.

Shadwell Farm


Shadwell Farm


With Anticipation Quotes, courtesy NYRA press office

Jonathan Thomas, winning trainer of Catholic Boy (No. 3): “I thought our draw was super beneficial. We were able to save ground. I thought Manny [Franco] gave him a great ground-saving trip. I was hoping we could get up on the inside, but he had to tip out, and I thought Manny did everything great.
“He’s screaming for distance. We had the seven-furlong race at Kentucky Downs and the mile race at Del Mar, but with [owner] Mr. LaPenta being a New Yorker, and this is my second home, being able to come up here and get the trip-of-ground we needed was important. I’m impressed with him knowing he didn’t get the cleanest trip and he negotiated some pockets and holes and overcame it. Obviously, the goal would be to get to the Breeders’ Cup from here with possible start in the Pilgrim in between, but we’ll see.”
Manny Franco, winning jockey aboard Catholic Boy (No. 3): “I just followed instructions. I just tried to break and get position, and that’s what we did. It worked out good. I had a lot of horse under me and I was trying to find my way out. I had to wait a little longer than I wanted, but the hole open, and I had a lot of horse left and we won. I work him in the mornings. I know the horse, and he broke his maiden nicely; he won by two lengths at Gulfstream. [Today], it worked out.”