Gary Barber’s What a Catch captured his career debut in Belmont Park’s 1ST race on Friday to give freshman sire Justin Phillip his first winner.
The juvenile colt lost his rear footing exiting the gate in the five-furlong maiden special weight under jockey John Velazquez, but recovered quickly to move up and chase the pace four wide on the turn. Grabbing command, What a Catch pulled away under urging to be 5 1/2 lengths clear on the wire while stopping the clock in :59.79 over the fast main track.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, What a Catch is out of dual stakes winner Catch My Fancy, making him a half-brother to the dam of this year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner Girvin as well as Grade 3 victor Cocked and Loaded. The New York-bred chestnut’s female family includes Grade 1-winning sire Yes It’s True, Canadian champion Kiss a Native and Grade 1 hero Silver Max.
Justin Phillip was a Grade 1-winning millionaire on track himself, capturing the 2013 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. He also conquered that year’s Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and the 2011 Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) while placing in 10 other stakes contests, including the 2011 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) and 2013 editions of the Vosburgh Invitational (G1) and Forego Stakes (G1).
Justin Phillip retired after running fifth, beaten only 2 1/4 lengths, in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) for trainer Steve Asmussen. During his time on track the dark bay son of First Samurai banked $1,293,437, to go along with a 32-7-6-8 career mark.
Out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knowsthecode, Justin Phillip is a half-brother to Grade 2-winning sire Keyed Entry, Grade 1 hero Greenpointcrusader, and Grade 3 victors Successful Mission and Algorithms.
Justin Phillip entered stud in 2014 at Castleton Lyons near Lexington, Kentucky, for a $12,500 stud fee. His 2017 live foal fee is listed at $5,000.