01/27/2016 1:10PM

Cathryn Sophia gets major class test in Forward Gal

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Cathryn Sophia, unbeaten and unchallenged in two starts, will face far stiffer competition in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at seven furlongs.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Like a pitcher who has been nothing short of sensational working his way through the minor leagues, Cathryn Sophia will find out if her stuff is good enough for the majors when she puts her unblemished record on the line in Saturday’s Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Cathryn Sophia won her first two starts at Parx Racing and Laurel Park by a combined 29 lengths, including the Gin Talking Stakes by 16 1/4 lengths as the 1-9 favorite in her 2-year-old finale Dec. 5. But the competition she beat in those races was decidedly easier than the group she’ll encounter in the seven-furlong Forward Gal, a field that will include the multiple stakes winner Ballet Diva, and the speedy, stakes-placed Island Saint.

“It took us a while to get her to the point where we could really train her and realize she had some talent,” said John Servis, who trains Cathryn Sophia for Cash is King LLC. “She bucked her shins, and we had to stop on her, but she’s a pretty filly, has a good head on her shoulders, and seems to settle real nice. She’s going up against the best company she’s hooked into, that’s for sure. But she’s pretty fast, she’s been training well at Palm Meadows, and I think I’m going into the race with some real ammunition.”

Servis said he had the option of running Cathryn Sophia in the Grade 3 Old Hat, won impressively by Lucy N Ethel on Jan. 2, but opted to await the Forward Gal instead.

“I didn’t want to shorten her up to three-quarters after she’d already won at seven-eighths,” Servis said. “And if all goes well on Saturday, I’d like to go right back to the Davona Dale at a mile and continue a progression that would eventually bring us to the [Gulfstream Park] Oaks later in the meet.”

Conquest Babayaga and Disco Rose also are part of the Forward Gal lineup.