Cathryn Sophia Makes Davona Dale a Tricky Race
by Reinier Macatangay of Lady and The Track
Cue the laugh track. The idea of any filly defeating Cathryn Sophia in the Davona Dale Stakes (GII), scheduled for this Saturday at Gulfstream Park, just seems funny at first thought. It is good practice to analyze the race anyway.
Trained by John Servis, Cathryn Sophia has compiled a 3 for 3 record for Cash Is King LLC. Each of those wins appear impressive and came with a lofty speed figure.
Cathryn Sophia broke her maiden at PARX, which granted is not a strong racetrack in terms of quality. She won by 12 lengths and earned a 99 BRIS Speed Rating. Then she went to Laurel Park to compete in an ungraded stakes race. Cathryn Sophia went to the lead and took them wire to wire by 16 lengths for a 102 BRIS Speed Rating.
It is dangerous to assume horses with impressive wins at second-tier tracks can duplicate their form elsewhere. But then again, Cathryn Sophia traveled to Gulfstream Park and won by over five lengths in the Forward Gal (GII). The Forward Gal proved her form translates to a top-tier racetrack and graded stakes competition.
The stakes victory came at the distance of seven furlongs, while the Davona Dale is one mile. However, the configuration of Gulfstream’s dirt track means they only go around one turn when racing at the mile distance.
If Cathryn Sophia loses, factors others than ability (such as disqualification or dumping the jockey) will be at play.
In an unthinkable scenario, perhaps the rail horse Thrilled steps up for trainer Todd Pletcher. Sure, finishing second in a slow Grade II race at Aqueduct is nothing to brag about, but there is a chance Thrilled matured since last November. Speed figures do not remain stagnant for young horses, giving her a slight chance.
The filly in the second post position, Dearest, also looks decent enough and enters with a 2 for 2 record. Her career debut win was earned at Gulfstream Park West, while the latter victory came at Gulfstream.
Two spots right, Lewis Bay starts for trainer Chad Brown and she actually defeated Thrilled in the Aqueduct race. Note the six-length win going seven furlongs at Belmont Park two races ago.
For a longshot underneath in the trifecta, it might be fun to put Rontos Lily in the third spot. If she goes to the lead, she is toast, but if the jockey lets other speed horses become cooked by Cathryn Sophia and company, Rontos Lily can pick off a few horses for a respectable finish.
Taking a shot with Rontos Lily seems better than spending money on R Girls a Charmer, who almost certainly needs the lead and will be toasted by whoever challenges her early on.
Realistically speaking though, this is a tough race to bet and handicappers should shy away from most vertical wagers in a race where the superstar favorite deserves the attention and hype. Cathryn Sophia not only stands as the best or second best female 3-year-old sprinter, she can defeat most colts out there as well.
Bridgejumpers tend to be interested in these kinds of races, and in that case, placing a show bet on any horse with tactical or closing speed, and not named Cathryn Sophia, might be a wise idea. Remember in 1998, when Gentlemen finish fourth as the 1-20 favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap (GI)? Horse racing is a strange sport.
Still, there must be more profitable races filled with value out there somewhere. Find them.
$100 Pretend Wager: $25 Trifecta Backwheel - Cathryn Sophia / Thrilled, Dearest, Lewis Bay, R Girls a Charmer / Rontos Lily