Cathryn Sophia tops light Forward Gal field
Only seven sophomore fillies were entered for Saturday’s $200,000 Forward Gal S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, and the group is pretty light in terms of winning stakes experience.
Just two among the bunch have actually scored in a stakes, but neither of those has earned that honor against graded rivals. In fact, the best-looking filly in the bunch will be making her graded debut in the Forward Gal for trainer John Servis.
That would be Cathryn Sophia, who enters the seven-furlong sprint unbeaten from two career starts. The bay miss dominated her maiden bow at Parx Racing in late October by 12 lengths and returned on December 5 to take the Gin Talking S. at Laurel Park by 16 lengths.
Those two efforts earned the Maryland-bred BRIS Speed numbers of 99 and 102, easily the best against this field.
Cathryn Sophia shipped to Florida not long after her Laurel score and has been working up a storm at Palm Meadows Training Center. The Street Boss filly posted a bullet five-eighths move in :59.60 on January 16 and readied for this one with a half-mile work in :50.40 on Sunday.
Joel Rosario had piloting duties in her prior two races and retains the mount as Cathryn Sophia seeks to join the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard in this Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race.
Disco Rose already holds a spot on the Oaks leaderboard thanks to a third-placing in the Demoiselle S. (G2) at Aqueduct last November 28. The Robert Reid Jr. pupil also finished fourth in the Tempted S. (G3) at that track after breaking her maiden in her fifth try at Parx Racing.
All three of those races came at a mile or more, so Disco Rose will be cutting back for the Forward Gal. However, the Weigelia filly joined Cathryn Sophia on Palm Meadows’ worktab Sunday and was caught in a bullet, best of 102, half-mile move in :47. Rafael Hernandez has the call.
Ballet Diva is the only Forward Gal runner besides Cathryn Sophia to bring a stakes win into the race. The Stanley Gold charge took part in the Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream and took home the top prize in the Susan’s Girl division while placing in the Desert Vixen division.
Ballet Diva also boasts wins in both the Cassidy S. and House Party S. at Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West, respectively. In addition to being only one of two in the Forward Gal with a winning stakes record, she’s also only one of two in the race who has actually competed in the New Year, finishing third last out in the January 2 Old Hat S. (G3). Jose Caraballo was aboard that day and remains in the saddle.
Dad’s Kiddo is the other filly who has already made her three-year-old bow, which also came in the Old Hat. The bay miss was fourth that day following a pair of runner-up efforts to the re-opposing Island Saint in an allowance/optional claimer and Ballet Diva in the House Party.
Island Saint, who captured that optional claimer by 5 1/4 lengths to close out her juvenile campaign in mid-December, helps complete the Forward Gal with maiden winners Rontos Lily and Conquest Babayaga.
Later on Gulfstream’s Saturday card, three-year-old fillies will take to the turf in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. (G3) going a mile. A field of 12 was entered in that contest, including Sapphire Kitten, who finished just 1 1/4 lengths back in fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) two back.
That one-mile affair on Keeneland’s yielding green was sandwiched between a neck second in the Jessamine S. (G3) and a rallying third in the Wait a While S.
Others of note in the Sweetest Chant include Pricedtoperfection and Module, separated by only a head as the respective close second and third in the January 2 Ginger Brew S.; Irish-bred Spinamiss, who shipped in from her native country last year and returned from a five-month break to take an allowance/optional claimer last out at Tampa Bay Downs; and the unbeaten pair of Ami’s Mesa and Hidden Treat, both stakes winners in their last races.
Three-year-old males will get their turn on Gulfstream’s turf course Saturday when seven line up in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy S. also going a mile.
Conquest Daddyo is exiting a fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) that followed a nice win in the Summer S. (Can-G2) at Woodbine for trainer Mark Casse. The Scat Daddy colt will be joined in the Kitten’s Joy by fellow Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner Azar, who never showed much in that contest after a pair of promising efforts in New York.
Azar broke his maiden in his third outing against graded company in the With Anticipation S. (G2) at Saratoga, then just missed by a neck after leading in the stretch of Belmont Park’s Pilgrim S. (G3) next out.
John Velazquez is the regular rider for Azar while Joe Bravo returns to Conquest Daddyo’s saddle on Saturday.
Another contender in the Kitten’s Joy is Life Imitates Art, who made his sophomore bow a winning one on January 2 when scoring by a head in the Dania Beach S. (G3) going 7 1/2 furlongs on Gulfstream’s turf.
Ballet Diva photo courtesy of Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography