Monday, October 6th, 2014
By Sarah Mace
Don’t Tell Sophia took down the Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Sunday with a dramatic last-to-first rally, giving her New York-based sire Congaree a third career Grade 1 progeny winner. By earning an automatic berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the 6-year-old mare also gave her sire a chance for added glory on October 31 at Santa Anita Park.
Ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., 5-1 Don’t Tell Sophia dropped to the back of the six-horse field after the break, while 1-5 favorite Close Hatches, tracked loosely by Ria Antonia, led the way under Joel Rosario through fractions of 24.19 and 47.47.
Don’t Tell Sophia began to close as the vanguard entered the far turn and, once Ria Antonia shook clear of Close Hatches in upper stretch, Don’t Tell Sophia mounted her bid. The bay mare passed all five rivals and drew off to a 2 1/2 length victory, completing the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.80.
Winning jockey Joe Rocco Jr. said, “It worked out more or less like we thought. She kind of gallops behind them and does her thing back there. When it comes time for her to put in her run, it sure is explosive.” Rocco continued, “That’s how she likes to do it. We knew that Close Hatches on paper looked like the lone speed but we can’t take [Don’t Tell Sophia] out of her comfort zone. It all worked out. She’s an amazing mare.”
Rocco also addressed a claim of foul by Paco Lopez, the rider of Ria Antonia, against the winner for interference at the sixteenth pole, which was disallowed by the stewards: “We went by [Ria Antonia] so fast and it felt like it was very marginal. I didn’t think we came in very much, so I was pretty confident it would stand. But you still cross your fingers until they put the official up there.”
Trainer Phil Sims, who co-owns Don’t Tell Sophia in partnership with Jerry Namy, said, “We knew she’d make a run at the three-eighths [pole] and just hoped she’d have enough to run them down. She did.” Simms added, “She’s tough as nails. She shows up every time. We’re so delighted with her.”
Bred by in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, who also campaigned multiple graded stakes winner Congaree, Don’t Tell Sophia is out of the graded stakes-placed mare Lost Expectations, by Valid Expectations, whose first foal was Summer Song, a multiple stakes winner and graded stakes placed earner of $336,981.
Sims purchased Don’t Tell Sophia for a mere $1,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2009. Explained Sims, “[She was] just a nice, big, strong filly. She had a lot of confidence when she walked into the sales ring – the kind of horse I look for. I was in the right place at the right time.”
A winner now of seven stakes races in all, Don’t Tell Sophia annexed the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes last year at Churchill Downs. With eleven wins, four seconds and a third from 22 starts, she has earned $979,295 and joins the ranks of Congaree’s multiple Grade 1 winner Jeranimo, earner of more than $1.5 million, and Killer Graces who triumphed in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in 2011.
Currently eighth in the New York stallion rankings with 15 career stakes winners and nearly $1.6 million in 2014 Northern Hemisphere progeny earnings, Congaree stands at Saratoga Stud, LLC. His stud fee in 2014 was $7,500.