Co-owner and horsewoman, Julie Davies who provided the key early training for Catalytic, has been sharing her excitement for her horse on Facebook since her arrival to Churchill Downs. She posted photos from his morning work on April 24, saying, “There’s our boy,” followed by a heart emoji and, “It’s starting to feel real.” Catalytic arrived on Monday morning after vanning from South Florida.

“We bought him at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga from Machmer Hall, bred by Watercress Farm, and he was such a handsome, good minded, classy horse when we broke him and throughout the time we had him in training. He was the type you wish you had a barn full of that enjoy their job, eat every bite of feed no matter what and just do everything right, “ said Davies.

After the Grade 1 Florida Derby where he finished second, Davies said,  “I’ve never been so excited and screamed so loud about running second. Saffie Joseph and his crew have done an amazing job with him. Now it’s Run for the Roses.”

She added, “He walked around the paddock and onto the track with the same class and presence [as he was when I trained him], but a bigger, stronger, grown-up version and he looked incredible, then ran to his looks.”

“He’s doing well,” said Tristan Ford, an assistant to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr, after the Thursday gallop. “Everyone is happy with the way he’s progressing.”

The Florida Derby runner-up behind probable Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness, is expected to work this weekend, possibly Sunday. Davies owns the horse with Tami Bobo of First Finds and George Isaacs, Bridlewood Farm general manager.

Catalytic was back on the track Friday with exercise rider Olaf Hernandez, shortly after he received a new set of shoes.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. arrived from South Florida on Thursday, and was on hand to supervise the shoeing and the easy mile-and-a-half gallop when he took to the track at 9:10 Friday morning.

“He’s galloping well,” said Joseph, who also gave Catalytic some time to stand in the starting gate. “He’s getting over the track really well. So far, so good.”

“Before we shipped from Florida, we weren’t sure what to do, if we should work him at Gulfstream or wait until we got here,” Joseph said. “The weather is looking good for this weekend, so hopefully it stays like that.”

Joseph is looking forward to taking part in something different that Churchill is doing this year – holding the Derby and Oaks post position draws between races Saturday night.

“That’s very different, something quite unique,” he said. “Anything that helps generate interest with the fans. It will be something to see. It’s always good to be creative.”

Return to the April 26 issue of Wire to Wire