Don't Tell Sophia was a $1,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2009. On Feb. 16 she ran them off their feet at Oaklawn Park, easily putting 6 1/2 lengths over her nearest competitor in the $98,000 Bayakoa Stakes (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old Congaree filly claimed her third straight victory off a similar route in the Jan. 19 Pippin Stakes, which she took geared down by 7 1/4 lengths. Her combined winning margin over the past three races for partners Phil Sims and Jerry Namy is 17 1/4 lengths.
"She's a monster right now," said Sims, who also trains the filly. "Having a race over the track didn't hurt. It was a definite advantage. She's such a big filly. She always just kind of falls out of the gate."
Unhurried in the early furlongs of the Bayakoa, the 3-2 second choice was patiently handled the rail by jockey Robby Albarado in a five-horse field featuring 6-5 favorite Tiz Miz Sue. While Tiz Miz Sue raced in last, Don't Tell Sophia sat fourth, two lengths off a pace set by 13-1 shot Minesave, who went the first quarter in :24.02.
"I just told Robby to not get in trouble in the small field," Sims said.
The eventual winner made her steady progression from third by a head after a half-mile in :48.13 to first at the quarter pole after three-quarters in 1:12.90. She easily assumed control from Minesave under her own power, clearing the second turn while increasing her advantage. She never felt the whip while drawing off unthreatened.
"I hadn't ridden her in race before, just worked her," Albarado said. "She's a big filly. In a five-horse field, I just wanted to keep her out of trouble. She just exploded in the stretch. I look for her to have a very big year."
She's All In earned a hard-fought second, three-quarters of a length over Tiz Miz Sue, who had to settle for third on the outside in her 2013 debut.
"At one point I thought we were going to be third, but she just kept digging in," said Luis Quinonez, the jockey aboard She's All In.
Said Steve Hobby, trainer of graded-stakes winner Tiz Miz Sue: "I don't know if we could have beaten Don't Tell Sophia on our best day, but (Tiz Miz Sue) ran her eyeballs out."
Don't Tell Sophia paid $5, $3.20, and $2.10, while She's All In paid $3.40 and $2.20. Tiz Miz Sue returned $2.20. Minesave and Bahama Bound completed the order of finish. Itsabeautifulthing and One Last Dance scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable out of the Valid Expectations mare Lost Expectations, Don't Tell Sophia improved her career record to 6-1-1 from 12 starts with earnings of $243,606. She seems to have hit her best form this year but is still seeking a graded-stakes win, the opportunity for which should come at Oaklawn March 13 in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) leading to the April 12 $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I).
"The Azeri is a definite," Sims said. "She really just loves this track."