Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Catalytic

April 13th, 2024

Catalytic wasn’t expected to factor in the Florida Derby (G1) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but a runner-up finish at odds of 29-1 earned him a ticket to compete in the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

With only three starts (and only one route race) under his belt, Catalytic is a largely unproven commodity. It’s difficult to say based off his racing record whether the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance is within his wheelhouse, and truth be told his pedigree is a tough read as well.

Catalytic is a son of Catalina Cruiser, a talented speedster who won five Grade 2 stakes over distances from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Catalina Cruiser was best as a sprinter/miler, though his pedigree offered potential for success over longer trips, given that his sire (Union Rags) won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1), his dam sire (Mineshaft) was a long-winded Horse of the Year, and his dam (Sea Gull) previously foaled the graded stakes-winning router racers Royal Flag and Eagle.

Catalina Cruiser’s first foals hit the races in 2023, and so far he hasn’t set the world on fire as a stallion, with Catalytic ranking as his best runner. But he’s also the sire of Latte Lizzie, who placed third in the one-mile Juvenile Fillies S. on turf at Kentucky Downs, so Catalina Cruiser’s progeny are showing some ability to run long.

Catalytic’s dam is One Show Only, a 0-for-3 maiden who achieved her lone top-three placing when third in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on turf at Delaware Park. Her first three foals to hit the races recorded a single victory between them, with that triumph coming in a $25,000 maiden claimer sprinting six furlongs at Aqueduct. Since neither One Show Only nor her foals prior to Catalytic showed much ability, there isn’t a lot to analyze as far as distance preferences are concerned.

On the bright side, One Show Only’s sire is Distorted Humor, a talented sprinter/miler who developed into a versatile stallion capable of siring major winners over a variety of distances. He’s best known for siring Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Funny Cide, Belmont (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Drosselmeyer, and Travers (G1) winner Flower Alley, who is in turn the sire of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.

As a broodmare sire, Distorted Humor has passed on class in abundance and stamina with regularity. His daughters have foaled champion and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate, Pegasus World Cup (G1) heroes Art Collector and Life Is Good, Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty, Alabama (G1) winner Elate, Belmont Oaks (G1) heroine New Money Honey, and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) victor Happy Saver. All of those except Art Collector and Life Is Good have won Grade 1 or Group 1 races over 1 1/4 miles.

Analyzing Catalytic’s pedigree isn’t easy since Catalina Cruiser is still largely unproven at stud. But Catalina Cruiser’s stout genetics, when combined with the class (and classic stamina) evident among Distorted Humors’s descendants, may be enough to carry Catalytic over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby.