Updated on 04/29/2016 2:14PM

Cathryn Sophia among fillies eyeing Kentucky Oaks after Songbird defection

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cathryn Sophia and jockey Javier Castellano win the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes in February.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The defection of heavily favored Songbird from the $1 million Kentucky Oaks has swayed the connections of other 3-year-old fillies to reconsider their prior decisions to withdraw their horses from the race.

Cathryn Sophia is the most prominent of the fillies who will now point to the May 6 filly classic at Churchill Downs. After finishing third in the April 9 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, Cathryn Sophia was being diverted by trainer John Servis to the Grade 2, $200,000 Eight Belles, a seven-furlong race on the Oaks undercard.

But that all changed after Songbird came down with a lingering fever that forced owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to declare her out of the 1 1/8-mile Oaks last Sunday night.

“There’s a very good possibility we’re running, and yes, it’s because of Songbird,” said Servis, the Philadelphia-based trainer best known for his work with 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.

“Obviously, the Ashland wasn’t her best race, and I was disappointed with the effort,” said Servis. “It wasn’t a bad race, it just wasn’t her best. But looking back, I don’t know if you’d want her to run her best race anyway right before the Oaks.

“With Songbird being out, it certainly changes the complexion of the race dramatically. I have to think the two who beat us in the Ashland [Weep No More and Rachel’s Valentina] will be the ones to beat in the Oaks.”

Servis said Cathryn Sophia was to breeze five furlongs Friday at Keeneland, where the filly has remained stabled since the Ashland.

Cathryn Sophia was the 5-1 second choice in the Oaks futures pool offered March 11-13 by Churchill, behind only Songbird (7-10); no other individual horse was lower than 13-1. Cathryn Sophia was unbeaten and unchallenged in four starts to that point, but as the 1-2 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland, her first race around two turns, she hung in deep stretch and was defeated for the first time.

Joel Rosario rode Cathryn Sophia in her first three starts, but after he was injured in February, Javier Castellano has ridden her in the last two races. Rosario will return to action April 29 at Belmont Park, but Castellano will retain the mount and was to be aboard for the Friday work at Keeneland.

Cathryn Sophia is owned by Cash Is King LLC, the Philadelphia group that owned 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex. The daughter of Street Boss was bred in Maryland by Bob Manfuso.

According to Churchill racing officials, Cathryn Sophia is one of perhaps six fillies whose connections are considering an Oaks run in light of the Songbird defection after previously indicating they would not run. Those fillies are Mo d’Amour, Nickname, Dothraki Queen, Adore, and Thrilled.

Churchill now lists 23 fillies as Oaks candidates. As many as 18 can make the program, with 14 allowed to start and an also-eligibles list of up to four. Entries will be taken and the race drawn May 3.

Cathryn Sophia now becomes part of a bewildering mix of plausible favorites for the Oaks, along with Terra Promessa, Rachel’s Valentina, Weep No More, Lewis Bay, Land Over Sea, and Go Maggie Go.

On Thursday, Rachel’s Valentina had her first breeze since the Ashland, going a half-mile in 48.60 seconds over a fast track at Keeneland.

Kentucky Oaks qualifying points standings
1. Terra Promessa, 150
2. Lewis Bay, 130
3. Land Over Sea, 128
4. Weep No More, 100
5. Go Maggie Go, 100
6. Cathryn Sophia, 80
7. Mo d’Amour, 70
8. Venus Valentine, 50
9. Mokat, 50
10. Rachel’s Valentina, 48
11. Royal Obsession, 45
12. Dream Dance, 44
13. Nickname, 40
14. Taxable, 40
15. Paola Queen, 40
16. Dothraki Queen, 20
17. Gomo, 20
18. Carina Mia, 20
19. Marquee Miss, 20
20. Adore, 20
21. Flora Dora, 16
22. Northwest Tale, 10
23. Thrilled, 4

Jenn H More than 1 year ago
I'm rooting for Rachel's Valentina and Weep No More. Loved WNM's flyby in the Ashland! Not sure if WNM can duplicate it, but that move was awesome. Gave me the chills!
trytrytryx3 More than 1 year ago
I love this horse, Ashland was not a peak performance.  but I have to say ducking one horse and ducking the greatest race for 3 year olds of the year is silly.  We have seen both huge upsets OAKS days and yes some great champions dominate.  but run your horse in the race that matters.  this back and forth  to dodge one other horse I have little respect for.  If the Oaks distance is not the issue or the health of the horse then run the major races for the fans at Oaks with the top horses.

Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
I couldn't agree with you more. Ducking elite horses in once in a lifetime races when you've gotta quality horse is so unsportsmanlike. That would be like wanting horses not to have run against Smarty Jones when he was the best 3YO in 2004. Whatta Joke...
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And what if Cathryn is just not good enough? Waddya do then?
Nick Pavletic More than 1 year ago
She's been distance exposed by the Ashland!  8 Belles much better choice for this filly.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
I agree. One could see that in her form all along.