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Cathyrn Sophia captures Kentucky Oaks  

     Cash is King`s Cathryn Sophia rebounded from a third-place finish in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) with an impressive off-the-pace win in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 6 at Churchill Downs. ?Watch Video

Ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer John Servis, Cathryn Sophia raced in fourth until the far turn, when she made her move outside of the leaders. The 3-year-old Street Boss filly fanned very wide into the lane as Lewis Bay found room and rallied along the rail, but she pulled away in the final eighth of a mile to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

It is the first Kentucky Oaks win for the owners, Servis, and Castellano.

Land Over Sea rallied from far back to nip Lewis Bay by a neck for second, while Go Maggie Go checked in fourth. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.53 on a track rated fast. Cathryn Sophia paid $11.40 to win.

Cathryn Sophia, bred in Maryland by Robert Manfuso out of the Mineshaft mare Sheave, now has five wins in six starts. She was purchased for $30,000 by Cash is King from the Chanceland Farm consignment of the 2014 Fasig-Tipton September selected yearling sale.

Cathryn Sophia made a similar move to the lead on the final turn in the April 9 Ashland at 1 1/16 miles but gave up the lead late to finish a close third behind Weep No More and Rachel`s Valentina. She headed into the Kentucky Oaks with questions about her ability to win beyond one mile, but she answered them emphatically.

"She improved so much since the Ashland," Servis said. "It looks like the only shot to beat her is to run with her."

Servis said the decision to run in Kentucky Oaks rather than the seven-furlong Eight Belles Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies earlier on the Friday card was made easier after undefeated champion Songbird was sidelined because of a virus, but as Cathryn Sophia progressed at Keeneland, he developed confidence.

"She was maturing, and she had learned to settle," Servis said. "With Songbird out of the race, and the way Cathryn Sophia was coming into the race, we were feeling pretty good. This (victory) opened up a whole new book for us with her getting the mile and an eighth."

Cathryn Sophia broke well from post 12 in the 14-filly field but was taken back by Castellano as Terra Promessa gunned to the front from the rail. Rachel`s Valentina, who started from post 11, also left the gate quickly and grabbed the second spot behind the leader, while Lewis Bay dropped in third along the rail.

Terra Promessa, a two-time grade III stakes winner at Oaklawn Park, set fractions of :23.32 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.87 for the half-mile, and 1:12.60 for six furlongs. She held a comfortable two-length lead over Rachel`s Valentina, with Lewis Bay tucked to her inside and Cathryn Sophia waiting to make her move three-wide.

As they approached the one-mile mark (1:37.10), Lewis Bay found room inside of Terra Promessa as the field turned for home to make it four across the track. But Cathryn Sophia had the momentum and pulled away from the rest.

Castellano rode the filly to a seven-length victory over Lewis Bay in the one-turn-mile Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 27 as well as the Ashland at Keeneland.

"Mr. Servis did a great job preparing her for this race," Castellano said. "The question was, `How how far could she go?` She proved she`s a top-level filly in this country."

Land Over Sea, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) in her previous start, broke from post 13 and dropped back early, though that`s her running style. The Reddam Racing-owned Bellamy Road filly began to pick off horses in the stretch under Mario Gutierrez and just got up for second.

"She ran a great for us," said trainer Doug O`Neill, who will saddle Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby for the same connections Saturday. "Mario said she got away from there a bit slow and he was farther back that he wanted to be, so he saved all the ground he could and kept plugging.

"At one point I thought she was going to be fifth or sixth, but she kept trying and Mario never gave up on her."

Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Lewis Bay for owner Alpha Delta Stables and trainer Chad Brown, said the Bernardini filly was "very keen" early in the race. "She was on her game today," he said. "She broke aggressively but relaxed nicely. I had move a little early for her style, and maybe she could have run second, but it was a beautiful race."

Rachel`s Valentina, by Bernardini out of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, finished sixth behind long shot Mo d`Amour.

"We were in a good spot and she was just cruising," jockey John Velazquez said. "Then when we hit the three-eighths pole she started jumping up and down. She just didn`t have it.

Pennsylvania-based Cash is King owned Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes (both gr. I) winner Afleet Alex , the current Gainseway stallion who finished third in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) but was named champion 3-year-old male of 2005. Chuck Zacney of Cash is King said the experience was different more than 10 years ago because the partners were new to the business, but he was happy to be back at Churchill with a grade I winner he selected at auction.

"We were looking for a Maryland-bred at the Fasig-Tipton sale," Zacney said. "She wasn`t a big filly but she was athletic. We got her for $30,000. What a bargain today. The Maryland (breeding) program is an improving program so we were leaning in that direction. I have a lot of Pennsylvania-breds but we wanted to expand upon that."

Zacney said he and Servis are looking at the June 11 Acorn Stakes (gr. I), a one-turn-mile event at Belmont Park, for Cathryn Sophia`s next start.

Courtesy: www.bloodhorse.com

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