On Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park in New York, there could be a very happy family from Oklahoma celebrating.
If it happens, it won’t be because California Chrome has won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. It will be because My Miss Sophia has captured the 84th running of the TVG Acorn Stakes, the sixth race on the Belmont card Saturday before the Belmont Stakes.
My Miss Sophia is owned by Bill and Terry Mathis of Edmond and enters as the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1 $750,000 race for 3-year-old fillies.
“It is a career-defining race,” said Bill Mathis, who owns Mathis Brothers Furniture in Oklahoma City with his brother, Larry. “We are delighted to be and thankful to be in a race of that caliber with that horse.”
Bill Mathis was in the horse racing industry in the 1980s with his brother and father, but only got back into the business in 2012 when he and his wife, Terry, bought My Miss Sophia as a yearling along with three other horses.
They may have struck gold with My Miss Sophia, which is named after their 11-year-old daughter.
“Horses like My Miss Sophia make us glad we got back into the business,” he said.
My Miss Sophia is coming off an impressive second place finish last month in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, a 1-1/8th mile race in which she took the lead with three furlongs to go before being caught and defeated by Untapable by 4 1/2-lengths.
My Miss Sophia finished six lengths ahead of third-place finisher Unbridled Forever. Untapable is not running in the Acorn Stakes, making My Miss Sophia the favorite Saturday on a big stage.
A victory Saturday would double her value, Mathis said.
“If she wins a Grade 1 race, she will become a sought-after commodity among top breeders,” he said. “It really would establish her future as a brood mare.”
Mathis said international buyers have already expressed interest in My Miss Sophia, but they are waiting until after the Acorn Stakes before making any decisions about her future.
Thirteen 3-year-old fillies are running in the Acorn Stakes. Post time for the race is 1:32 p.m. Oklahoma time. It will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (Cox 251).
Bill and Terry Mathis also have two other thoroughbreds named after their children: Larry Boy, named after their 9-year-old son, Larry, and Biedermeier, named after their 7-year-old son, Billy. Biedermeier is Billy’s nickname.
Mathis said the children do get emotionally attached to the race horses, but his daughter realizes they may sell My Miss Sophia.
“We have had that discussion and she understands that,” he said. “The children understand it’s a business.”
But even if My Miss Sophia is sold, Mathis said she will always be his daughter’s horse in one sense.
“She will always be My Miss Sophia,” he said. “Once you name them, that’s their name forever.”