Horses

Cathryn Sophia now likely for Oaks after strong five-furlong work

Multiple graded stakes winner Cathryn Sophia put herself closer to rejoining the mix for the Kentucky Oaks on May 6 thanks to a handy, five-furlong breeze in 59.60 at Keeneland Saturday morning.

The daughter of Street Boss suffered her first loss in five career starts earlier this month when she finished third, beaten less than a half length, in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 9. In her first move since that outing, Cathryn Sophia had jockey Paco Lopez grinning after she clicked off splits of 11.60, :23, :35 with little effort and galloped out in 1:12.60.

“She just does whatever you want,” Lopez said. “She was so relaxed, no fighting, no nothing and she galloped out really good.”

In the aftermath of her loss in the 1 1/16-miles Ashland, trainer John Servis said he thought distance may be an issue for the bay filly and was planning to point her to the Grade III Eight Belles Stakes going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 6. With unbeaten champion Songbird now declared out of the Kentucky Oaks due to a low-grade fever, Servis has had a change of heart and now says he is leaning towards sending Cathryn Sophia into the 1 1/8-miles premier race for 3-year-old fillies.

“Paco said she worked sensational, he was crazy about her - which is good because he sits on a lot of nice horses,” Servis said. “(The work) was pretty much just what I wanted. I wanted her to work on her own and gallop out, which she did. As long as she comes out of it good, I’ll talk to (owner) Chuck (Zacney) today and I’m sure we’ll make a decision (on the Oaks) by the end of the night.

“I would say after that work, I’m leaning towards going (in the Oaks). Definitely.”

Owned by Cash is King LLC, Cathryn Sophia won her first four starts by a combined 41 1/2 lengths including victories in the Grade II Forward Gal and Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Servis said he could “blow her out a little bit” going into the race “but I’ll let her tell me.”

One filly who is most definitely targeting the Kentucky Oaks is Reddam Racing’s Land Over Sea. The daughter of Bellamy Road was also on the Keeneland worktab Saturday, going five furlongs in 1:02.20 under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.

Land Over Sea finished second to Songbird in both the Grade II Las Virgenes and Grade II Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita Park this year before shipping to New Orleans to win the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths on March 26.

The chestnut filly has been particularly energetic since arriving at Keeneland and gave Garcia quite the arm exercise as he worked to keep a hold of her through splits of 12.20, :24.20, :36.40 with a gallop out in 1:17.60.

“She did everything we wanted her to do and did it well in hand,” said Steve Rothblum, racing manager for trainer Doug O’Neill. “You couldn’t ask for her to be doing any better. We are just happy to be going in (to the Oaks) and be going in the right way. It’s going to be tough, no doubt but we’re certainly happy with how she’s going.”

Land Over Sea, like her champion stablemate Nyquist, is set to have her final work at Keeneland next Saturday and will likely ship to Churchill Downs the following day.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: 859-231-1676, @horseracinghl

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