Solitary Ranger wins the Arlington-Washington Futurity (Photo: Four Footed Fotos)
Lexington, Ky (Oct. 1, 2013) -- When Wayne Catalano saddles Solitary Ranger in the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) on Oct. 5 at Keeneland, the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event will be the next part of a plan that included the World Championships long before the talented juvenile runner broke his maiden.
Solitary Ranger is the first horse Catalano has trained for owner Susan Moulton; the two met at the Breeders' Cup one year in California when Moulton wanted to share a box and Catalano had extra tickets.
"She was looking for tickets, I had some tickets, I shared a box with her, we got to talking, had a good time," Catalano recalled. "The next thing I know she's asking about buying a horse -- 'I want to buy a horse some day, maybe run in the Breeders' Cup!' I said 'You're talking to the right guy, we'll get you one!'
"Six months or a year or so later, I called Miss Sue up. I said 'I got a horse!' It was some claimer for like $80,000. We vetted him, and he didn't vet out.
"So I had this horse last year and they were wanting to sell him, couldn't get him sold, nobody bought him. I said, 'I forgot all about this lady who wanted a horse!' I called her up, said 'I got one for you.' 'Oh really? Good!' she says. 'You like him?' I said 'Yeah!' She said 'How much?' I said, '$125,000.' She said, 'OK, I'll buy him!' Just like that."
Solitary Ranger, who was bred in Kentucky by Richard Forbush & U S Ranger Syndicate out of the Lil E Tee mare Galileo's Star, was a $28,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s 2012 select and open sale of yearlings. He is from the first 2-year-old crop of U S Ranger, a son of Danzig out of the Red Ransom mare My Annette, who entered stud in 2010 and stands for $5,000 at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.
Runner-up in two outings at Keeneland for William Pate and Marshall Dowell when also under Catalano's care this spring, Solitary Ranger finished second, two lengths behind eventual group I winner No Nay Never, in an April 26 maiden special weight at the Lexington oval. The colt hadn't started in more than four months when Catalano put him in the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) at Arlington Park on Sept. 7, but he rolled by 5 1/2 lengths to break his maiden in the one-mile Polytrack event.
(Watch Solitary Ranger win the Arlington-Washington Futurity.)
"He was training like a monster and they said, 'Are you going to run him in this maiden race'?" Catalano said. "I said, 'Hell no, I'm going to run him in the stake.' I said, 'When they work like stakes horses, you run them in stakes races'."
Since arriving from Arlington, Solitary Ranger has turned in two bullet works over the Polytrack. He went four furlongs in :47 flat on Sept. 17, and fired a five-furlong bullet in :59 flat on Sept. 24.
"He's coming in very well," Catalano said. "We're coming in as the horse to beat. He broke his maiden in a stakes pretty good and ran very, very well; we like him a lot. We're going real good right now, I'll tell you that."
The winner of the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity qualifies for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, and Solitary Ranger could be California-bound with a good effort here.
"That was kind of the whole idea when we got this horse," said Catalano, who has won three Breeders' Cup events, all with youngsters -- the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) with Stephanie’s Kitten, the 2009 Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with She Be Wild, and the 2006 Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Dreaming of Anna.
Both She Be Wild and Dreaming of Anna went on to claim championship honors as the outstanding 2-year-old filly in their respective seasons. Catalano is thinking his next victory in the World Championships could come courtesy of this colt and the Breeders' Cup connection made with Moulton in the box seats at Santa Anita.
"I'm hoping he's the best horse I've ever trained," the veteran horseman remarked. "He's sure training like it and acting like it, but he has to step up to the plate and do it. So if we can get this race out of him next time, he can prove me right."
For more on Catalano's slate of upcoming starters and his reflections on record-setting runs at Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs, read Wednesday's edition of The Keeneland Files.
Solitary Ranger's maiden-breaking Arlington-Washington score (Four Footed Fotos)