01/30/2016 1:59PM

Cathryn Sophia delivers as heavy favorite in Forward Gal

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cathryn Sophia and jockey Joel Rosario win the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Cash is King was a notoriously excitable group during their glory years with Afleet Alex. And now that the ownership group has another potential star in their stable in Cathryn Sophia, it might be difficult to keep them from setting their sights too high.

“That’s OK,” trainer John Servis said with a laugh after Cathryn Sophia rolled to a 5 1/2-length victory Saturday in the 40th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park. “They can talk about the Kentucky Oaks. They can talk about anything they want.”

Untethered optimism does not come undeserved. Away a bit slowly in the seven-furlong race from her inside post, Cathryn Sophia rated nicely behind the leaders before tipping out for the drive. From there, she and jockey Joel Rosario quickly drew clear, finishing in 1:22.04 over a fast track.

The winner returned $2.20 to win as the 1-10 favorite in a field of six 3-year-old fillies. Island Saint was second, and Ballet Diva was third.

“After she broke, I thought, ‘Well, we can see what kind of versatility she has,’ ” said Servis, best known for his work with 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. “She settled real well, which was great to see. When Joel asked her, she went on about her business. Knowing she won, I can say I’m glad to see it happen the way it did.”

Now untested in three career starts after winning her first two in front-running style by a combined 29 lengths, Cathryn Sophia will continue along the Gulfstream path toward the May 6 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, with the Feb. 27 Davona Dale her next start.

Cash is King, based in Philadelphia, won the 2005 Preakness and Belmont with Afleet Alex. Headed by Chuck Zacney, the group was out in force Saturday, with perhaps 20 people gathering for the winner’s-circle photo.

“It’s pretty exciting, and we love Gulfstream and the program here,” said Zacney.

The $2 exacta (2-4) paid $5.20, the $1 trifecta (2-4-5) returned $11.70, and the 10-cent superfecta (2-4-5-6) was worth $6.52.

Cathryn Sophia, by Street Boss, was bred in Maryland by former Laurel Park co-owner Bob Manfuso. She was a $30,000 yearling purchase at the Eaton Sales at Timonium in September 2014.