12/09/2015 1:06PM

Mid-Atlantic: Impressive juvenile fillies signal their readiness for more

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Cathryn Sophia won the $100,000 Gin Talking Stakes on Dec. 5 at Laurel Park by 16 1/4 lengths, earning a 93 Beyer for the effort.

The victory by Cathryn Sophia in the $100,000 Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel Park on Saturday was the latest in a string of recent powerful efforts by 2-year-old fillies in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Cathryn Sophia, who races for trainer John Servis and the Cash Is King stable of Chuck Zacney, romped by 16 1/4 lengths in the Gin Talking, earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure, and is now 2 for 2. She won a Parx maiden race in her debut by 12 3/4 lengths and received a 92 Beyer.

Cathryn Sophia’s stakes win came 10 days following a 13-length victory by Behrnik’s Bank in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies at Penn National. She was given a 94 Beyer that evening and is also undefeated in two races, having won first time out by more than 18 lengths.

Eighth Wonder is yet another filly off to a strong start. Based at Parx with trainer Dee Curry, she is 3 for 3. Although her Beyers have been in the 70s, she has been visually impressive and has an average winning margin of more than seven lengths.

While Eighth Wonder is being given the winter off, Cathryn Sophia and Behrnik’s Bank have upcoming races on their calendars. Unfortunately, they are headed in different directions. A matchup would be worth the price of admission.

Cathryn Sophia will van to Florida next week, according to Servis.

“We’ll give her time to acclimate and get her ready for the Forward Gal,” he said.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Forward Gal is a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 30.

Behrnik’s Bank races for owner, breeder, and sometimes trainer Peter Kazamias. A Pennsylvania-bred, she is from the first crop of the stallion Bank Heist, whom Kazamias stands at his Kaz Hill Farm in Middletown, N.Y. She is being pointed to the $150,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 20.

Cathryn Sophia, a $30,000 buy at the Fasig-Tipton Timonium sale in September 2014, has been a pleasant surprise for Servis. Although she has looked smooth in her races, that was not the case when she joined Servis’s stable.

“When she first came in she wasn’t the best-moving filly, and Chuck said he’d been told the same thing at the farm,” Servis said. “I don’t know if it was growing pains or that she just hadn’t developed enough yet. She was just so gawky. We stopped on her a few times, and pin-fired her shins.”

Servis credits Zacney for allowing him to take his time with Cathryn Sophia.

“Giving her time was definitely the key; there’s nothing else you can really pinpoint,” Servis said. “Once we began training her regularly, she started leveling off and going nice. I was like ‘holy Moses.’ We were worrying if she was going to make it or not.”

Servis is confident Cathryn Sophia will go a route of ground. She certainly was going easily for jockey Roberto Rosado at the end of the seven-furlong Gin Talking.

“When Rosado works her, he says it’s like floating on air,” Servis said. “He doesn’t really feel her hitting the ground. She also settles so nice. In the Maryland race, three strides from the gate she was pricking her ears. I think she’ll be able to carry her speed a long ways.”

Although Behrnik’s Bank’s next race is six furlongs, Kazamias believes her future also lies in longer races.

“She’s definitely built to go a distance,” he said. “After the stallion stakes, I plan to stretch her out.”

Kazamias purchased Bank Heist as a stallion prospect after he was done racing in early 2011. Bank Heist, a son of Maria’s Mon who is a half-brother to two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, won a Saratoga maiden race in six starts.

“I knew he had speed, he was just one of those horses that got hurt,” Kazamias said. “I bred 16 or 17 mares to him the first year, and I totally love them. I bred 20 mares to him the next year, and I bred 25 to him this year. My other stallion, Here’s Zealous, is getting old, and I plan to breed all of my mares to Bank Heist next year.”

Largely due to the success of Behrnik’s Bank, Kazamias has raised Bank Heist’s stud fee for 2016 from $2,500 to $10,000.

Behrnik’s Bank is out of the Chimes Band mare Behrnik, whom Kazamias claimed at Belmont Park for $25,000 in 2006. Behrnik made one start for Kazamias and then had to be retired. She has produced three other foals. They have started between 17 and 42 times each, won at least three races apiece, and earned between $92,000 and $140,000. Behrnik’s Bank is her first stakes winner.

In addition to his New York farm, Kazamias owns the Rising Sun Training Center in New Egypt, N.J., which has a five-furlong track. Kazamias, a native of Cyprus who came to the United States at age 7, works side by side with Dimitrios Synnefias.

“Sometimes we run the horses in his name, sometimes in my name,” Kazamias said. “This year, Dimitrios has trained most of them.”

As an owner in 2015, Kazamias has won 40 races from 180 starts, a 22 percent win average. Since 2004, he has won at a 16 percent clip as a trainer (188 for 1,169).