In what may be a national record, Scioto Farms' 10-year-old Catlaunch captured his 21 stakes victory inthe 35th running of the Sydney Gendelman Memorial Handicap at River Downs on Saturday. The 10-year-old gelding finished closer to the outside rail, than the inside one, but that didn't bother jockey Luis Gonzalez. "Into the stretch he switch leads just right and then slowly drifted out," he said. "I just kept riding and as long as he kept running I didn't care where he finished,as long as it was in front. He's the best horse I've ridden in 25 years."
Trainer Ivan Vazquez came into this race with a game plan. "I knew several horses were set to put pressure on us so I figured - why let them?" Jockey Gonzalez put Catlaunch on the lead right out of the gate and a game of "catch me if you can" ensued. That duo stretched their lead by every early point of call and led by 6 lengths after six furlongs in the 1 1/16 mile race. As they slowly veered to the outside in the stretch, Allsarott slipped through along the rail and put in a solid challenge, but Catlaunch held on to win by 3/4 of a length. It was 8 lengths back to third-place finisher Cajun Prize.
Owner and breeder Ron Fields was all smiles in the winner's circle following the race. "I wish every owner who gets involved in the game could feel what I feel now." Fields' gutsy gelding was named Ohio Horse of the Year in 2009 and 2010 and in this race was spotting his ten foes from 3 to 12 lbs. in this Handicap race. "(trainer) Ivan (Vazquez) downplays his role in this horse's success, " stated Fields. "Let's face it - he's been with this horse for eight years and we've almost won $1 million dollars - somebody has to take the credit." With his win on Saturday, the son of Noble Cat has a lifetime record of 37-17-9 from 86 starts for earnings of $983,944.
Catlaunch went off a slight favorite in the $50,000 race and returned $8.00, $5.00 and $4.00 while clocking the 1 1/16 miles over a track listed as "good" in 1:47.46. Allsarot paid $6.60 and $4.60, while Cajun Prize had a show return of $8.00.