Horse of the Year
Three Year Old Filly
B.f., 2013, by Street Boss—Sheave, by Mineshaft.
Bred by Robert T. Manfuso; owned by Cash is King; trained by John C. Servis.
Foaled at Chanceland Farm, West Friendship.
What’s to say? Other than thanks. And, what a ride.
Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old filly and champion sprinter Cathryn Sophia rode a historic win in the Kentucky Oaks-G1 to the Maryland-bred championships while also propelling the state’s Thoroughbred industry to – if not new, at least rare – heights.
Bred by Bob Manfuso, the bay filly started her career innocently enough with a maiden win at Parx and a victory in Laurel Park’s Gin Talking Stakes as a 2-year-old (by a combined 29 lengths). Those were good enough to make her the state’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2015.
Then came 2016. She won the Forward Gal and Davona Dale, both Grade 2, at Gulfstream Park to stamp herself the best of her division in Florida. Trainer John Servis sent the Cash is King colorbearer to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Ashland – her first start beyond a mile. She lost by two necks when Weep No More charged from well back, prompting plenty of questions about distance limitations.
Servis debated a try in the 1 1⁄8-mile Kentucky Oaks, where champion and budding star Songbird awaited, or a return to shorter distances. When Songbird was scratched with a fever, Servis opted for the Oaks and watched his filly deliver the performance of her life. She avoided a pace duel, stayed out of traffic in a field of 14, took over at the quarter pole to win by 2 3⁄4 lengths and silence doubters. Her Ashland vanquishers, Weep No More and Rachel’s Valentina, finished in mid-pack. The win, worth $564,200, rewarded Cash is King, Servis, Manfuso and Maryland.
Manfuso, partner Katy Voss and their Chanceland Farm wound up in the Baltimore Sun – an example of the state’s Thoroughbred revival. The bay filly known for sticking out her tongue as a foal – and as a racehorse – became a celebrity. Manfuso watched the Oaks from the Tips Restaurant at Laurel Park, and thought about how it all came to be.
“The whole room when she made that move on the far turn just exploded,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have bred a Grade 1 winner but what’s more important to me is you’ve got a Maryland-bred filly winning the Kentucky Oaks. Obviously I’m excited to be involved with a filly like Cathryn Sophia. I’m incredibly proud of my team here. You’ve got to get the foals on the ground, raise them right and do all the work.”
Cathryn Sophia closed her season with a third in the 1-mile Acorn-G1 at Belmont Park in June, a lopsided win on her home track in Parx Racing’s Princess of Sylmar Stakes and then a third behind Songbird in the Cotillion-G1, also at Parx.
Cash is King briefly entertained the idea of a Breeders’ Cup try, but retired the daughter of Street Boss in October. After nine starts, six wins and $1,229,720 in earnings, she sold for $1.4 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale, joining the broodmare band of S.F. Bloodstock. She will be bred to American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile.
Cathryn Sophia goes way back with Manfuso, who bought a Mr. Leader mare named Sailing Leader at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s winter mixed sale in 1985.
Three years later, she foaled the Shelter Half filly Cruising Haven. Unraced, Cruising Haven produced major winners Royal Haven and Belterra. The latter, a daughter of Unbridled who won a Grade 2 and placed in a Grade 1 (the 2002 Ashland), produced a Mineshaft filly ultimately named Sheave. Unraced, Sheave produced Cathryn Sophia.
Cash is King’s Chuck Zacney spent $30,000 to buy Cathryn Sophia at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s 2014 yearling sale.