LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Twelve years ago, trainer John Servis won his Kentucky Derby debut with Smarty Jones. He did a delayed encore Friday his first time in the Kentucky Oaks.
Cathryn Sophia moved four-wide into the stretch under Javier Castellano and drew off to a 2 3⁄4-length victory over Land Over Sea in the $1-million fillies’ classic before an Oaks-record crowd at sunny Churchill Downs. Rachel’s Valentina, daughter of 2009 Oaks heroine and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, faded to sixth of 14 as the 5-2 favorite.
It was the fifth win in six starts for Cathryn Sophia, who was third by a half-length April 9 in Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes. She paid $11.40 after running 1 1⁄8 miles in 1:50.53. She earned $564,200, raising her total to $949,720 for Cash Is King LLC, which owned 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex. She’s named for Cathryn McCarry, the niece of co-owner Chuck Zacney.
“Last time was her first race around two turns, and I think she got a little tired,’’ Castellano said. “The question was could she go this far. I think she proved that.’’
Cathryn Sophia stamped herself as a rising star by starting her career 4-for-4 by 43 1⁄2 lengths. Servis didn’t decide to run in the Oaks until after a fever sidelined Songbird, the undefeated division leader, last month.
“How far she would go was always a question,’’ Servis said. “But with Songbird being out and her doing so well, we were feeling pretty good. Oh my God, to have the Derby and Oaks on my resume and run only once in each, it’s fantastic.’’