Mathis Stable's My Miss Sophia rolled to a decisive victory April 5 in the $300,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack (VIDEO), stamping her ticket to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The chestnut daughter of Unbridled's Song came off a 5 1/4-length maiden victory at second asking going a mile March 9 at Gulfstream Park to ace her stakes debut under Javier Castellano. She set an uncontested lead and easily carried on for an impressive 7 1/4-length score ast the 4-5 favorite in a field of six.
Off with ears pricked in the 3-year-old filly test at 1 1/8 miles, My Miss Sophia clicked through moderate fractions of :24.31, :48.23, and 1:12.39 while maintaining a one or two-length advantage over Vero Amore. That rival never quite came to My Miss Sophia as she cut the pace just off the inside in hand, and once the leader turned for home, she widened her advantage while shown the stick intermittently to the wire. Final time was 1:50.48 on a fast track.
"It went how we thought it might on paper," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It looked like My Miss Sophia was the only speed, but you never know how a race is going to unfold. It certainly played out the way we thought it would. Vero Amore was kind of on her flank a little bit, but it didn't look like she was ever under any pressure. You have to have a horse that can do that. You can't take a horse out of their game."
Pletcher runners finished one-two as Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Philip Steinberg's Got Lucky closed four wide to secure the place in the final strides. The A.P. Indy filly who came off a second-place finish to Untapable in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) going 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, is also viewing the Oaks as a target.
"That's the plan," Pletcher said. "We felt like Got Lucky ran well also. While the pace scenario was good for My Miss Sophia, it worked against the other filly. But it hopefully set her up. And she got a little squeezed at the start."
"She broke well out of the gate," Castellano said of My Miss Sophia. "I was the only speed and I took advantage of it. She was able to relax. I was really impressed because she had only been shorter distances and today we stretched her out to a mile-and-an-eighth. I think she improved and I liked the way she did it and she was much the best in the race."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who rode Got Lucky, echoed Pletcher's sentiments about the pace setup for his mount.
"Good trip; it was what we expected," he said. "She doesn't show much speed. I try to place her wherever she's comfortable. She ran as best as she could."
My Miss Sophia returned $3.60, $2.50, and $2.10, while Got Lucky paid $2.90 and $2.30. Grade I winner Sweet Reason brought $2.30 while finishing half a length farther back in third. ero Amore, Bird Maker, and Wraith completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther out of the Langfuhr mare Wildwood Flower, My Miss Sophia was a $260,000 purchase from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Glennwood Farm. She now has two wins and a second from three starts and earnings of $211,800, and earned 100 points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks. That ties her for fifth in the standings with stablemate In Tune to make the 14-horse starting gate for the female counterpart to the Derby. Got Lucky is 10th with 64 points on the list.