Fox Hill Farm’s superstar Songbird arrived Wednesday afternoon at Belmont Park for her bid in Saturday’s Grade 1, $ 750,000 Ogden Phipps on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly, installed as the 1-2 favorite in the Phipps, reached her new digs in Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey’s barn shortly before 5 p.m., where she was greeted by Christina Jelm, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Songbird reeled off 11 consecutive wins at 2 and 3, punctuated by seven Grade 1 victories, including a 5 ¼-length score in the Coaching Club American Oaks and a seven-length domination in the Alabama at Saratoga Race Course, en route to year-end honors in 2015 and 2016.
The Phipps will mark Songbird’s return after being handed the first defeat of her career by three-time champion mare Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November.
She was joined on the journey by Jerry and Ann Moss’ Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley, trained by John Shirreffs, on assignment for the Grade 1, $ 1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. Shirreffs said the trip took about 12 hours from Southern California, including a refueling stop, but was otherwise uneventful.
Gormley checked into nearby Barn 17, grazing in the adjoining paddock before settling in for the evening.
Shirreffs trained 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, who went on to finish third in the Preakness before coming to New York as the first Belmont starter for Shirreffs. That year, Giacomo was stabled in the annex of McGaughey’s barn, which this year is serving as the temporary home of Songbird.
“We got bumped,” he laughed. “Well, what the heck.”
Songbird and Gormley are each scheduled to take her first spins around “Big Sandy” Thursday morning, with Gormley expected to go out at 7 a.m. and Songbird around 7:50.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2017 Paulick Report.