Marylou Whitney Stables’ homebred Bird Song was very confidently handled by jockey Julien Leparoux to score his third win on the afternoon, capturing the G3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes by two lengths on Saturday. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song covered one mile on Gulfstream’s main track in 1:36.07 for trainer Ian Wilkes, capturing the first graded stakes win of his career.
“Today there was not too much speed in the race, so I got him set up pretty nice, and he had a nice kick at the end,” Leparoux said. “He’s a nice horse. Last time he ran a big race, and today he ran an even bigger one. It’s a great day so far. I’m lucky to ride good horses on these big days. I hope I get three more.”
Bird Song broke on top of the field alongside Tale of S’avall, but Mr. Jordan was rushed up the rail to take the lead nearing the end of the chute leading the one-turn mile course. Mr. Jordan set a first quarter fraction of :23.17 and the half in :46.06 as Bird Song settled into second just a half-length off the leader. Tale of S’avall raced alongside Realm in third, with Greenpointcrusader and War Story tracking the pacesetters.
Approaching the far turn, Bird Song easily took back his lead, but Tale of S’avall and Realm were cruising up to press the leader mid-way through the turn. War Story appeared a threat briefly around the turn, but appeared to run out of steam at the head of the lane.
Though Bird Song drifted to the outside a bit in mid-stretch, Leparoux was able to keep him on task all the way to the wire, crossing it a length in front of Realm. Tale of S’avall held on to finish third, and Frammento closed from very far back to out-finish War Story for fourth.
“He got a late start,” said Wilkes. “[Trainer] Nick [Zito] had him and he always said he could run. Nick told me that. He’s a good horseman. He knows. I always felt like I was playing catch-up with him last year, and I felt later in the year that he caught up where he should be.”
Bred in Kentucky, Bird Song is out of a daughter of Cape Town. He raced steadily through his 3-year-old season, just unable to keep up with Grade 1 company in the King’s Bishop. Kicking off 2017, Bird Song finished second in the G3 Hal’s Hope behind a very good Tommy Macho, but was able to get the job done in the Fred W. Hooper on Saturday. Overall, the colt boasts a record of four wins from nine starts, with earnings of over $ 220,000.
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