Bet Against Cathryn Sophia in the Forward Gal

By Derek Simon

Cathryn Sophia (photo from

Cathryn Sophia (photo from

She won her debut by 12 ¾ lengths and her next start, the $100K Gin Talking Stakes, by 16 ¼ lengths, despite never changing leads.

The “her” is Cathryn Sophia, a Maryland-bred daughter of Street Boss who is drawing rave reviews… even while her trainer, John Servis, is urging caution.

“I learned a long time ago not to get too excited, especially after just a couple races. So much can go wrong in this business when you’re trying to get everything to go right,” Servis told Bloodhorse. “Her last race was an impressive race. Her first race — I don’t think she beat a whole lot. The last race was more of an impressive effort for sure.”

Servis should know. He was the trainer of Smarty Jones, a horse who, like Cathryn Sophia, had an unremarkable pedigree, but a remarkable career.

Of course, as bettors, we don’t care about any of that stuff. And, from a wagering perspective, I think it might be worth taking a shot against Sophia — especially in the show pool where she is almost sure to be an overwhelming favorite.

As many longtime players know, when the amount wagered on a horse represents approximately 80 percent or more of a particular betting pool, the pool is said to be “negative.” This means that, in order to pay the minimum $2.10 ($2.20 in some locales) mandated by law, the track will need to provide some of its own funds.

Now, in the old days, if the heavily favored steed hit the board (finished third or better), all of the top three finishers would pay $2.10 to show. However, with the advent of Net Pool Pricing, this is no longer the case at some tracks — witness Cathryn Sophia’s last race at Laurel on Dec. 5. She was the 1-9 favorite that day, yet the second- and third-place finishers paid $2.60 and $3.00 respectively.

This makes it easier for players to break-even when the big favorite finishes in the money. And breaking even is the goal… until the big money can be made when the “sure thing” fails to fire, as was the case in the 2010 Withers Stakes when D’ Funnybone was unable to live up to his pre-race hype in a five-horse field.


Even though she’s looked incredible in two starts, I love betting against horses like Cathryn Sophia for one reason: She’s had clear early leads in both of her races. Although her ESRs put her in the early hunt again on Saturday, what happens if she’s unable to shake loose early? Some horses — think Bellamy Road — are completely different animals when they can’t dictate the fractions and no horse is worth taking 1-9 on.

Both the legged-up Disco Rose and the Canadian shipper Conquest Babayaga should be coming late and I think each is worth a deuce or two to show.

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