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Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Catherine’s Cause is Back on Track

Perry Martin and Steven Coburn came out of nowhere last yearand took the thoroughbred industry by surprise.  They bred 2014 dual crown and Eclipse Horse of the Year winner California Chrome.  Steve and Perry are the CTBA 2014 leading owners and TOBA 2014 National Small Breeders of the Year.

 I spoke with owner-breeder Perry Martin yesterday about his three year old, Catherine’s Cause. The filly that was named for his mom during the 2014 Churchill/Preakness broohaha was nominated for last year's December Starlet at Los Alamitos. Catherine Martin never made it to the Preakness and puzzlingly the filly never made it to the Starlet. Bred by Carol Ligenfelter the Bedford Falls – Jet Propelled, by Smoke Glacken is back on track at Golden Gate Fields with trainer Steve Sherman.

Here’s CC’s story:


“My Mom, Catherine Martin, was one tough lady. Since we started breeding horses, she was always teasing Denise and me about naming a horse after her but we always told her we had to find the right one.  When we visited her in the hospital after she had a lung removed because of lung cancer, her spirits were low and the time was right.  She brightened right up when we gave her several pictures of a new filly we had bred. She got even brighter when we told her the filly’s name - Catherine’s Cause (Cause to Believe/Flower Hill).

                   Catherine’s Cause & Bodi Dodds                                              at the Silver D Bar Training Center

                        Martin Racing 2014 Photo

We told her about how athletic the filly was and that we had high hopes she would be a runner. My Mom was overjoyed. She smiled and whispered to us that she would not die until she got to see her filly run. We gave her updates on a regular basis and she seemed to drive herself to better health. She worked hard in physical therapy and was able to go home in two months. The nurses told us she was always talking about her filly.

 Our filly was indeed athletic as somehow she found a way to jump a six foot fence and hurt herself so badly she had to be put down. We were devastated, even more so when we thought about her namesake. We couldn’t tell her. We contacted the Jockey Club, reported the death and put the name on reserve then started our search for the replacement Catherine’s Cause. It took us eight months to find an athletic filly the same age and with similar looks. We purchased our filly from her Poplar Meadows breeder, Carol Lingenfelter. We bought a horse and made two friends, Carol and Lisa Groothedde.

 I always called my mom at least once a week, luckily California Chrome was able to divert a lot of my Mom’s attention so we could make do sending her one or two pictures at a time from our stockpile of old photos. It was much easier to talk about Chrome’s accomplishments than to make up small talk about Catherine’s Cause. After Chrome won the San Felipe, we knew we were going to the Derby. We called my Mom and gave her the good news and invited her. She asked if she could bring her friend and neighbor Mary . Of course we said yes. We called mom again when Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby. She was overjoyed but told us she was very tired and ended the call very quickly. The next day my brother called and we were quickly on a plane to visit as she was back in the hospital with pneumonia. The doctor told us it was very unlikely she would be well enough to attend the Derby so when we left we didn’t think she would make the trip.


The story I was told goes like this, my Mom told the nurse to prepare discharge papers as she was going to check herself out of the hospital. She called my brother to come and pick her up while the nurse called her doctor. My brother and the doctor showed up at the same time and everybody had a short meeting. The doctor said, “Mrs. Martin if you check yourself out of the hospital you could die!” My Mom said, “Not until I see my son’s horse win the Kentucky Derby I won’t!” My brother said her stare was so fierce the doctor knew he was beat so he started giving medical directions. “You’ll need to be in a wheelchair and have oxygen available. I’ll give you a prescription for the medications you’ll need, etc.” I’ll say it again, she was one tough lady!


My Mother did indeed see her son’s horse win the Kentucky Derby. We shared the joy with a hug on the rail as Chrome flashed by the finish line. I’m eternally grateful she could share that moment with me that first Saturday in May. I’m very sorry she didn’t see her filly start.


My Mother passed in September that year. About the same time my Mother died, Catherine’s Cause was fighting for her life at Golden Gate Fields. She had contracted pneumonia and was having gallons of fluid removed from her lungs. She is also a very tough lady! It took several months but eventually she was well enough to go to a farm to recuperate. She spent about a year on the farm near us so we could visit. She is now back at Golden Gate Fields and training better than ever. Her first start will be Sunday the 15th of Nov. I know Mom will be watching.”

Catherine Martin & grand daughter Kelly Catherine Martin at the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby

                  Martin Racing 2014 Photo