01/05/2017 2:40PM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Cathryn Sophia

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cathryn Sophia's biggest win of 2016 came in the Kentucky Oaks.

“She’s run a lot of people out of her stall, I can tell you that,” trainer John Servis said of Cathryn Sophia. But luckily, the diminutive bay filly put her fighting spirit to good use on the racetrack, taking down one of her division’s signature events to stamp herself as an Eclipse Award finalist.

Bred in Maryland by Robert Manfuso, Cathryn Sophia was named for the niece of Cash Is King Stable principal Chuck Zacney. The feisty filly won her first four starts – two outings as a juvenile, then the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes and Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes early in 2016 at Gulfstream Park – by a combined 41 1/2 lengths. She then suffered her first loss when third in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

But Cathryn Sophia rebounded from that loss to win the 142nd running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks under the twin spires at Churchill Downs, swinging five wide and pulling clear in the lane to take the filly classic by 2 3/4 lengths for her signature triumph. As his stable star headed back to the barn, Servis regaled listeners with tales of her antics.

:: Eclipse Awards: 2016 finalists with profiles

“I’ll give you an example how tough she is,” Servis said. “She came back from the racetrack on Thursday, and she went in the stall. We put the cross bar up. My son was in there with the blanket. The exercise boy got off of her, was taking the tack off of her, and the groom was in there with the halter ready to put the halter on her. And I was standing at the end of the barn talking with somebody. And next thing you know I see three bodies fly out of the stall. I go running down there and go, ‘What the heck is going on?’ The groom pulled the bridle off, and when he did, she just wheeled around and bit him right in the stomach and threw him out of the stall. And now she’s loose – he’s got the halter and he’s out in the shedrow. And my son and the exercise boy, all they knew they were getting the heck out of there. Now I have a hot horse in the stall, nothing on, and you are not just going to get into the stall and get her. We got a scoop of feed and messed with her for a little while. And she finally came to the front and was nibbling on the feed, and we got the halter on her and got her out. But she is a handful.”

Cathryn Sophia continued on to a productive summer and fall campaign, picking up two additional Grade 1 placings in prestigious divisional events, finishing third in both the Acorn Stakes and Cotillion Stakes, in the latter to Songbird. She also dominated the Princess of Sylmar Stakes at Parx, winning by 6 1/2 lengths.

Cathryn Sophia’s retirement was announced in the fall. With six victories from nine starts for earnings of more than $1.2 million, she sold for $1.4 million to SF Bloodstock at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. The outfit plans to breed her to classic sire Pioneerof the Nile this spring.