05/17/2016 10:20AM

Maryland-bred Cathryn Sophia proves a bargain at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic

Barbara D. Livingston
Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia sold for $30,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic fall yearling sale.

The biggest weekend for the Maryland Thoroughbred industry is supposed to fall in mid-May, as historic Pimlico hosts the Preakness Stakes and a slew of other high-profile stakes events just days before the region’s future stars are unveiled at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.

But this year, a major day for the Old Line State came early, on the first Friday in May in the Bluegrass State.

Maryland-bred Cathryn Sophia, who is a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale, posted an emphatic 2 3/4-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks. She is now poised to vie for honors in major races through the rest of the year, further carrying the banner for a program on the upswing.

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: Real-time coverage and video of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale

“I was looking for a Maryland-bred horse in 2014,” said Chuck Zacney, whose Cash Is King LLC owns Cathryn Sophia. “Went to the Fasig‑Tipton sale and picked her out. She wasn’t a big filly, but she was athletic. We got her for $30,000 – and what a bargain today. . . . It says everybody has a chance. You look at some of the numbers of the horses in the sales, and a lot of them are over a million dollars. And here we are picking a Maryland-bred out for $30,000, and we are winning the Kentucky Oaks. That’s pretty impressive.”

Cathryn Sophia, a daughter of Kentucky stallion Street Boss, was born and raised at Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, Md., by Robert Manfuso and Katy Voss, both of whom have long and prolific backgrounds in the Maryland racing industry. Manfuso formerly served as executive vice president of both the Maryland Jockey Club and Laurel Racing Association, as well as director of the Maryland Horse Breeders’ Association. Voss, a trainer in Maryland for more than 40 years, helped found the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, is a longtime board member of Maryland Million Ltd., and is a former president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. Cathryn Sophia is the second high-profile horse to emerge from a regional program for the partnership in recent years as they also bred 2015 Louisiana Derby winner and Kentucky Derby starter International Star in New York.

For Manfuso, Cathryn Sophia has been a masterpiece three decades in progress. He purchased the mare Sailing Leader for $11,500 out of the 1985 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December sale; she went on to produce Grade 2 winners Royal Haven and Belterra. The latter, also Grade 1-placed, produced the unraced Mineshaft mare Sheave.

Cathryn Sophia, the first foal out of Sheave, sold for $30,000 to Zacney via the Chanceland consignment at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale. Zacney, well-known in the region, was looking to expand his holdings in that area.

“I was looking for a Maryland-bred because I had looked at the program and saw it was improving,” said Zacney, best known for campaigning 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex under the Cash Is King banner. “That’s one of the reasons I was leaning in that direction. I did most of my racing in Philadelphia Park. I have a number of Pennsylvania-breds, but I wanted to expand upon that.”

Cathryn Sophia won her first four career starts by a combined 41 1/2 lengths before finishing third in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, her first try around two turns. After her connections initially expressed concerns about the distance, she rebounded to win the Oaks, which, of course, was missing unbeaten champion Songbird due to an ill-timed fever.

The ascent of Cathryn Sophia means someone else may have gotten another bargain at the Fasig Midlantic yearling sale as regional owner Thomas Rooney purchased Great Craic, her 2-year-old half-sister, for just $2,700 last fall. The filly is by the Grade 1-winning Tiznow stallion Bullsbay, who stood three seasons in Maryland before moving within the region to Pennsylvania in 2014.

Sheave, still owned by Manfuso and Voss, is the dam of a yearling filly by shuttle stallion Denman and delivered another filly by Bullsbay at the end of March. She is now booked back to Street Boss for a full sibling to Cathryn Sophia.

Belterra also continues to produce and will be represented in the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale. Manfuso and Voss sold Elasticity, her filly by Paddy O’Prado, for $10,000 to Bob Feld Bloodstock at last fall’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale. The filly is entered back in the Midlantic 2-year-old sale, consigned by Jenn and Quincy Adams’s Q Bar J Thoroughbreds. Belterra, who is the dam of stakes winner Taketheodds and stakes producer Sister Dyer, is the dam of a yearling colt by Maryland stallion Hunters Bay and was bred to Street Magician for this spring.

Cathryn Sophia will continue to be based in the Mid-Atlantic region as she shipped to trainer John Servis’s barn at Monmouth Park following the Kentucky Oaks to begin preparing for the rest of her campaign, likely to next take her to the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on June 11 at Belmont Park.

The Oaks “opened up a whole new book now with us for her stretching out to the mile and a eighth and handling it the way she did,” Servis said.