Hope Racing Towards the Finish Line
Meet Catherine Z's Hope, a prize-winning thoroughbred whose earnings help support the Rivkin Center.
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 every- one she met. No one truly saw the depth of her faith and courage until she fought her final fight."
Hope was purchased by the Paul family shortly after Cathy lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Cathy and create a legacy to honor her, the Pauls named the filly after Cathy, adding "Hope" to the name. Recalling the emotions of the time, Darrin Paul says, "We never could have imagined the heartfelt parallels with Cathy and Hope's unrelenting will to live. None of us thought she would ever race with all the lung damage she had, but sometimes the unexplained reinforces the faith to never give up." After her triumph over her health issues, Hope ran her second race ever on June 19, 2010 and took third place.
The Paul family has dedicated 10 percent of Hope's gross earnings to the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. Through her courage and determination, Hope constantly reminds the family of Cathy's wonderful spirit; her winnings ensure that the Rivkin Center can continue its important work. As Darrin Paul said in an interview with Washington Thoroughbred magazine, "Hope is the symbol for the Center and we feel blessed to have the opportunity to do this and maybe, just maybe, our filly Hope will provide a good story for racing and will benefit a great [cause]."