Cathryn Sophia triumphs in Kentucky Oaks
That didn’t stop the John Servis pupil from jumping right back into the winner’s circle on Friday when pulling off from a 14-strong field to take the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Javier Castellano settled Cathryn Sophia about five wide in fourth on the backstretch before allowing the talented miss to draw closer to the front runners. Up front, Terra Promessa was setting a pressured pace of :23.32, :47.87 and 1:12.60 while tracked by 5-2 favorite Rachel’s Valentina.
It was still anybody’s race entering the lane but Cathryn Sophia suddenly separated herself from the pack and charged home to the roar of a record Oaks day crowd of 124,589. The Maryland-bred miss ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.53 over Churchill’s fast dirt.
Land Over Sea got her neck in front of Lewis Bay to take second, while Go Maggie Go finished just a head farther back in fourth.
Cathryn Sophia opened her career with a 12 3/4-length victory at Parx Racing last October and quickly graduated into stakes company next out at Laurel Park. On that occasion the Street Boss filly scored a 16 1/4-length win in the Gin Talking S. to close out her juvenile campaign on December 5.
The talented bay miss returned to action on January 30 at Gulfstream Park, and continued her winning ways with a 5 1/2-length victory in the Forward Gal (G2). Cathryn Sophia had her first repeat run over a track when taking the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream by seven lengths on February 27, then traveled to Kentucky.
Cathryn Sophia held a short lead in the Ashland when making her debut in the Bluegrass State last out, but couldn’t hold on when Weep No More and Rachel’s Valentina overhauled her late. She gained a measure of revenge in the Kentucky Oaks, as those two didn’t make the top four, and now boasts a 6-5-0-1 career mark to go along with $949,720 in lifetime earnings.
Bred in Maryland by Robert T. Manfuso, Cathryn Sophia was purchased for $30,000 as a Midlantic Fall yearling.
She is the first registered foal out of the unraced Mineshaft mare Sheave, who is herself a daughter of Grade 2 victress Belterra. This female family also includes champion turf mare and Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) queen Miss Alleged.
KENTUCKY OAKS JOCKEY QUOTES
Javier Castellano, rider of Cathryn Sophia (winner) – “She felt like she belonged with this group. What a filly! It feels great.”
Mario Gutierrez, rider of Land Over Sea (second) – “She broke just a little slow, but otherwise I had a good trip. She came running. It was a good race for her.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., rider of Lewis Bay (third) – "She surprised me. She was very keen. She was on her game today. She was pretty close, I didn't think she'd be that close. But, that's racing. She broke aggressive. She relaxed nicely. I had to move a little early for her style. Maybe could have run second, but she still ran a beautiful race. The trainer (Chad Brown) did a great job with her. She's a nice filly."
Luis Saez, rider of Go Maggie Go (fourth) – “It didn’t go very good. There was a lot of trouble in the race. I expected her to be a lot closer early, but she finished good.”
Joel Rosario, rider of Mo d’Amour (fifth) – “She broke well and I had a good trip. At the three-eighths pole, I asked her and she had a little trouble getting going. We lost some position, but then she fired and we started really going. I think she ran well.”
John Velazquez, rider of Rachel’s Valentina (sixth) -- “We were in a good spot; she was cruisin’ for me early. Then when we hit the three-eighths (pole), she started jumping up and down. She just didn’t have it.”
Corey Lanerie, rider of Weep No More (seventh) – “She broke OK and then down the backside she got pushed around a little bit, but I don’t think it really compromised her. We got bounced around a little bit, but she still got out and in the middle of the turn and I got to angle out, and then turning for home I had clear sailing. The track might not have played in her favor to close, but I thought she ran a great race.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., rider of Dream Dance (eighth) – "I thought my filly ran great. She settled in behind horses pretty good. We had a little traffic issue around the second turn, which you're going to have in these 14-horse fields like that. When I finally got her back out in the clear she ran on from there. She closed even more ground. She dug in and she impressed me for a young 3-year-old filly like she is. She ran against the best in the country and didn't disgrace herself. I thought she ran her race and she showed up."
Emisael Jaramillo, rider of Paola Queen (ninth) – “She was running near the leaders until the stretch, but she wasn’t able to make a run in the stretch.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., rider of Terra Promessa (10th) -- "She was really sharp today. She broke really sharp. I sat her down and she relaxed a little bit. She doesn't run like that (on the lead). It was pretty hard on her. No one broke with her."
Florent Geroux, rider of Royal Obsession (11th) – “I got bumped at the start and from there I got too far back. I was able to save ground on both turns but was not able to accelerate down the lane.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, rider of Venus Valentine (12th) –“I was basically last. My filly gave me what she’s got. I didn’t have any issues. I was last throughout and she picked up some horses and she tried.”
Flavien Prat, rider of Mokat (13th) – “I got a good trip but she just didn’t handle the dirt. She was swimming out there and never picked it up. I think she’s much better on the turf.”
Mike Smith, rider of Taxable (14th) -- “I’m at a loss for words to be honest. She didn’t show up at all. We got away well, got around the first turn OK. After that, she was kind of lost. I tried to pick her up and get into the race and she wanted to part of it.”
KENTUCKY OAKS TRAINER QUOTES
John Servis, trainer of Cathryn Sophia (winner) – “Javier (Castellano) rode her great. I'm so happy. I saw (Castellano) had horse (coming into the stretch) and when he inched up three wide on the outside, I knew he had horse. Oh my God, to have the Derby and Oaks on my resume, and to have only run one each time, it's fantastic."
Doug O’Neill, trainer of Land Over Sea (second) – “She ran a great race for us. We are very proud of her. Mario (Gutierrez) said she got away from there a bit slow and he was farther back than he wanted to be. So, he saved all the ground he could and kept plugging. At one point there I thought she was going to be fifth or sixth, but she kept trying and Mario never gave up on her. We are delighted with her try.”
Chad Brown, trainer of Lewis Bay (third) – “I thought my horse ran well. I thought she ran great. I'll talk to (jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.). She got a good trip saving ground. She just got nailed for second. The winner was clearly best today."
Dale Romans, trainer of Go Maggie Go (fourth) – “He (jockey Luis Saez) said she had her feet crossed and the starter went to straighten her up and they sprung the latch. All in all it was an impressive performance for the third start in her life to be in a position she had never been going that far and being stuck inside of horses. When she got clear, I thought she was going to get second. She ran a nice race. She got beat a half-length for second.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Mo d’Amour (fifth)/Rachel’s Valentina (sixth) – “Johnny (Velazquez) said she started slipping away from him at about the three-eighths pole. She was in the spot we envisioned for her in the early part of the race, then it just wasn’t there at the end. Mo d’Amour did some good running and came on late to finish fifth. It was a good race for her.”
Rusty Arnold, trainer of Weep No More (seventh) – “We came to run well and it didn’t work out great. We didn’t run as bad as it looked in my opinion. We kind of had a few things go wrong, but we’re going to regroup and head to the Alabama (GI) in midsummer. That’s our goal.”
Neil Howard, trainer of Dream Dance (eighth) – “That was some of the best 3-year-old fillies out there but she ran good. She’s a nice Grade 2 or 3 filly but let’s see how she comes out of this, but she ran good.”
Gustavo Delgado, trainer of Paola Queen (ninth) – “She ran very good up to the stretch, but (Emisael) Jaramillo said she got tired.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Terra Promessa (10th)/Royal Obsession (11th)/Taxable (14th)) – “Didn’t do any good. I am just disappointed with the way the race went.”
Tom Amoss, trainer of Venus Valentine (12th) – “We tried. This is a very good field of horses. We had a lot of ground to make up and the race did not back up really well for us. But I am very proud of her.”
Richard Baltas, trainer of Mokat (13th) – “The Oaks was such a great race. We were hoping for a better outcome but glad we came. All in all, I am happy. She was stuck on the inside and appeared not to care for the dirt. Maybe the runner-up in the Santa Anita Oaks was a fluke but we will give her 30-60 days off and point her to the Del Mar Oaks.”
Cathryn Sophia photo courtesy of Jim Tyrrell/Horsephotos.com