Ashland comes up short but sweet with Cathryn Sophia, Rachel’s Valentine & Carina Mia

Profile Picture: James Scully

April 5th, 2016

Saturday’s $500,000 Ashland (G1) at Keeneland marks the final Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep for three prominent members of an outstanding 3-year-old filly division.

The mighty Songbird isn’t present, remaining in California for Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks (G1), but the dynamite cast of five features unbeaten Cathryn Sophia, Grade 1 winner Rachel’s Valentina and Grade 2 queen Carina Mia.

Cathryn Sophia enters the 1 1/16-mile Ashland off a pair of spectacular performances at Gulfstream Park, winning the Forward Gal (G2) by 5 ½ lengths and Davona Dale (G2) by seven. The Jason Servis-trained filly captured her first two starts last year at Parx and Laurel by a combined 28 lengths.

The Ashland marks her first attempt at two turns, but Cathryn Sophia has given no indication of distance limitations and possesses a favorable pedigree for the trip: the Maryland-bred is by Street Boss and hails from a Mineshaft mare.

Javier Castellano will retain the mount on the exciting miss.

Rachel’s Valentina, the second foal out of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, easily captured her career debut before winning the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga. She performed admirably despite sustaining her first setback in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), finishing a clear second behind Songbird, and proved she could run well off a freshening that afternoon. The Bernardini filly will make her sophomore debut for Todd Pletcher and picks up a new jockey in Florent Geroux.

Carina Mia also returns to the races, making her first appearance since a scintillating 4 ¼-length victory in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November, and the Bill Mott trainee showed a preference for the Keeneland oval when breaking her maiden by 9 ¾ lengths in her second career outing. Regular rider Julien Leparoux will be up.

Rounding out the Ashland field is Weep No More, who exits a victory in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs; and multiple Grade 3-placed Banree, who finished sixth versus males most recently when opening 2016 in the WEBN at Turfway Park.

Cathryn Sophia photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese