Twelve and three-quarters, sixteen and a quarter, five and a half, and now seven lengths in the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2); those are the winning margins in the four races in the unbeaten career of the three-year-old filly sensation, Cathryn Sophia.
Every step of the race, Cathryn Sophia ran to her .20-1 odds, sitting patiently behind the early pace setters, just as she had done in the Forward Gal (G2), which was also run at Gulfstream Park. When Jockey Javier Castellano asked her to run she blew past the leaders and opened up to her big winning margin very quickly and very easily. In her fourth start she showed none of the erratic movement down the stretch that she had displayed in earlier starts.
The early pace in the one-turn, one-mile race was set by R Girls a Charmer, Dearest, and Bagema. Castellano, who was riding the favorite for the first time because he inherited the mount from Joel Rosario, recently injured in a spill, was content to sit just outside and behind as the fractions of 24.05, 47.12 and 1:11.88 were run.
Castellano asked Cathryn Sophia to run just as they were coming out of the clubhouse turn. As they straightened away, the speed with which she opened up a big lead was impressive and the final fractions were 1:24.26 and 1:36.61. The last two quarters went in 24.38 and 24.35.
"I really liked the way she did it. It was really impressive. It was the first time I rode her," said Castellano. "She did it really easy. I liked the way she started the first quarter mile. She was never rank or anything like that. I covered up behind horses, and when I asked her she took off. I can put her in the best, top quality horses in the country the way she did it."
This stakes race is named for the Hall of Famer, Davona Dale, who was bred by and raced for the legendary Calumet Farm. As a three-year-old filly in 1979, Davona Dale dominated her division with eight consecutive wins that led to winning two versions of the Triple Tiara. She swept the National Triple that consisted of the Kentucky Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan, and the Acorn. The daughter of Best Turn also took the New York Tiara that began with the Acorn and included the Mother Goose, and the Coaching Club American Oaks. Her final racing record was 18: 11-2-1 with earnings of $641,612. As a broodmare she produced 4 fillies and 8 colts with La Voyageur, who finished third in the 1989 Belmont Stakes, being her most successful runner.
After the race, Trainer John Servis of Smarty Jones fame said, “She’s been very sharp coming into the race. I was a little concerned, maybe a touch too sharp, that she might want to be out there on the lead with the first time going that far. But like she showed in her last race, she settled so nice and Javier did a great job.”
At this point there seems to be little question that Cathryn Sophia will be able to handle more distance around two turns, thus moving her into competition with the best in the division, Songbird and Rachel’s Valentina.
“When you get into those two turn races, you know the grade ones and those, you have to have that kind of horse,” added Servis. “They have to be almost push-button where they can turn it and turn it off. When you call on them you have something there. She has shown us that in the last two starts.”
Cathryn Sophia, who sold for $30,000 in September 2014, will now be viewed as one of the great bargain yearling purchases. Today as the big favorite she paid $2.40, $2.10, $2.10. In the show pool $197,686 out of $241,146 was bet on her. The $2 Daily Double of Cathryn Sophia with X Y Jet from the prior race, the Gulfstream Park Sprint, paid a paltry $3.80.
In addition to the $122,760 winner’s share of the purse money, the daughter of Street Boss secured 50 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points, increasing her total to 60. Her career stats now stand at 4: 4-0-0 with total earnings of $335,520.
Looking ahead Servis said, “I’m sure the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) [April 2] is one of the races on the schedule, but we will let her tell us how she is doing.”