Catherine Z’s Hope
7-year-old Washington-bred Mare (2007)
By Free At Last-Bates Monarch
Career (2010-2012): 20-4-8-2, $24,547

Before Catherine Z’s Hope ever set foot on a racetrack, she was destined to be a special horse.

Her owner, Darrin Paul and his wife Tracie, named her after Tracie’s mother Catherine Z. DeMatteis, who had recently passed away after a long battle with ovarian cancer. To honor DeMatteis and offer “Hope” in the advanced study of ovarian cancer, Paul promised to donate a portion of Catherine Z’s Hope’s race earnings to The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.

Iroincally, Catherine Z’s Hope, at age 2, had to endure a serious health issue of her own. With her life hanging in the balance and racing career in jeapordy, Catherine Z’s Hope dug deep, using some of her namesake’s courage to return back to optimum health. However, there was still one more mission for Catherine Z’s Hope to accomplish.

“The doctors did a real nice job, but they didn’t give her much of chance to be a racehorse,” Paul said. “Low and behold, she just had so much heart and so much fight that she ended up having a nice career.”

Raced exclusively at Emerald Downs, Catherine Z’s Hope compiled a solid career in the claiming ranks, finishing in the money in 14-of-20 races. At one point, the daughter of Free At Last finished first or second in eight straight races including two wins at one mile. And while she preferred two turns, the Washington-bred mare showed her versatility by winning a five-furlong race as well. Paul admits that Catherine Z’s Hope may not have had the aptitude to be a stakes runner, but that her competitive spirit led to her racing success.

“She had a little bit of talent, but loved racing,” Paul said. “I had this Kitten’s Joy filly that had tons of talent, but didn’t enjoy racing, and I always said ‘If she had ‘Hope’s heart, we’d be running in stakes on Sundays.’”

For trainer Frank Lucarelli, Catherine Z’s Hope made the difference in winning his fourth-of-five training titles. Beating out Washington Hall of Fame conditioner Howard Belvoir 53-to-52 in 2011, Lucarelli certainly appreciated the two wins Catherine Z’s Hope contributed that season.

“She was a good, solid, hard-running filly,” Lucarelli said. “She had a great mind and on every race day, she would get really focused.

“She was a touch better routing, but I wasn’t afraid to run her at short or long distances. You always love having those types of horses in the barn.”

Today, Catherine Z’s Hope is looking after her first foal—a weanling by Stevie Wonderboy—at Barbara Ratcliff’s Coal Creek Farm. According to Paul, she’ll likely be bred back to the 2005 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Male later this season. The rest of her retired life is dedicated to sun bathing and horse treats with ample pets from her visitors including Paul’s daughters Hannah and Hailie. Nevertheless, there’s still some zest left in the 7-year-old broodmare.

“She’s fat and happy, Paul said. “As a mom, though, she’s a lot like she was on the track, really competitive. With her spirit, her colt is going to end up one really tough kid.”

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