The early morning air is damp and the winter sun pierces the overnight mist. Standing next to the rail you feel and hear — rather than see — the racers as they come around the corner. We are at Emerald Downs to watch one of the most unusual donors to the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research be put through her paces.
Catherine Z’s Hope, known simply as Hope, is a beautiful dark bay, five-year-old thoroughbred filly with an impressive 2011 record: two wins and four second place finishes from her first six starts. However, in 2009, before even entering training, the horse developed pleuropneumonia which resulted in a collapsed lung. Her prognosis for survival was not good, much less for racing. But her team and her owners, the Paul family, refused to give up on her. How could they, for Catherine Z’s Hope is named for a very special lady, Catherine Z. DeMatteis, who fought a courageous battle against ovarian cancer. Tracie Paul remembers her mother, “as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and friend. She lived her life for her faith and family, and had a kind smile for everyone she met. No one truly saw the depth of her faith and courage until she fought her final fight.”