It’s déjà vu for Pletcher

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -- It’s déjà vu all over again. For the second time in 10 days, a 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor from the Todd Pletcher made a successful return at short odds off a lengthy layoff. Zaikov took center stage on Friday the 13th and Catron followed suit in the fifth race on Sunday’s card at Gulfstream Park. A homebred for Aaron and Marie Jones, the big bay colt scored at even-money in his June 15 unveiling at Belmont Park, where he had earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. He hadn’t seen afternoon action since then, but was hammered down to 2-5 while facing only four rivals.

Jockey Javier Castellano settled Catron in third, five lengths off the dueling front-runners. He gave Catron his cue heading into the turn and the sophomore responded smartly, inhaling the tiring leaders en route to a 4 ½-length tally. The final time for the six-furlong test was 1:09 2/5.

“He’s a nice horse and it was a great performance today,” Castellano said. “The way the race developed, it worked out great for me. The two speeds hooked up and I could come from behind. Those two horses went pretty quick and opened up on him. I wasn’t too worried because he got into it and finished very strong.

He was able to learn something today. I was very impressed with the way he finished.”

Castellano, who had been in the irons during the colt’s victorious debut, said the colt had developed in the interim.

“He’s a little bit stronger and more mature, more grown-up,” Castellano offered. “He grew a lot and mentally he was much better. He’s a very professional horse.”

Mr. Prospector and El Prado Set For Saturday

A field of eight has been entered for the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) next Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Recent Sunshine State Stakes winner Star Harbour, who will carry meet-leading rider Paco Lopez, drew post three for trainer Bobby Dibona in the six-furlong test on the main track. Apriority, the 2011 winner of the Mr. Prospector for trainer David Fawkes, will break from the seven hole under Joe Bravo. Also in the field are Fort Loudon, Trinni Heart, Upgrade, Travelin Man, Singanothersong and Black Diamond Cat.

The $100,000 El Prado Stakes at one mile on the Gulfstream grass attracted an overflow field of 16 runners. Defending titlist Nikki’s Sandcastle drew post seven for his first start since winning the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on October 26. Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. has the mount for trainer David Kessen. Mr. Online, runner-up in the Laurel Dash and the Nearctic Stakes (G1), will break from the rail with Kendrick Carmouche riding on behalf of Michael Pino. The field is completed by Empire Builder, Coalport, Hobbs, Grand Tito, Looking Cool, Hakama, Alley Oop Oop, Guys Reward, Salto, Philly Ace, Riding the River and Lea. Utley is on the also-eligible list, while Majestic Express is main track only.

WHO’S HOT: Paco Lopez booted home back-to-back winners early on the card, Sky Skier ($2.80) in the second and Scatter Joy ($3.20) in the third. Javier Castellano responded with the easy win aboard Catron in the fifth and Canzoni ($17.00) in the sixth; both of those were from the Todd Pletcher barn. Trainer Nick Gonzalez had the late double covered with River Seven ($12.50) in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes and Oroluce ($8.00) in the finale.

Rainbow 6 Carryover: $114,752.22.
Super Hi-5 Carryover: $6,963.79.