Jockey Mike Smith celebrates aboard Songbird after their victory in the G2 $ 200,000 Summertime Oaks
If Secretariat moved like “a tremendous machine,” Songbird moves like something “rarely seen,” although when it comes to styles, she is Zenyatta in reverse.
Songbird goes to the front and improves her position.
Zenyatta spotted her rivals seemingly insurmountable leads before running them down with laser-like precision in the stretch.
As the odds-on favorite in six of her eight victories, there is little gain in betting on Songbird except for “bridge jumpers.” In Saturday’s Summertime Oaks, which Songbird captured by 6 ½ lengths, there was a minus place pool of $ 9,594.35 and a minus show pool of $ 201,400.83. Of the $ 244,136 bet to win, $ 189,093 backed Songbird.
But aside from the mutuel aspect, she is worth the price of admission.
That was the case yesterday when Songbird treated her fans to another dazzling triumph, earning $ 120,000 for the Fox Hill Farms of Rick Porter, boosting her bankroll to $ 2,102,000.
Jerry Hollendorfer couldn’t have asked for a more fitting birthday present.
So what if her detractors say she has beaten up on a bunch of tomato cans. That’s not her fault. Joe Louis beat anybody they dragged into the ring against him. They dubbed his opponents members of “The Bum of the Month Club.”
Sunday morning, Hollendorfer, who turned 70 yesterday, was back at his grandstand perch as is his wont.
“It was fantastic. Everybody’s happy, Mr. Porter’s happy, Mike Smith, everybody,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, with more than 7,100 wins and counting.
As to Songbird’s next race, it likely will be east of California, and not against males.
Said Porter on Facebook: “Songbird came out of the race great and we are looking forward to a race back east. The Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade I, $ 300,000, 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga July 24) is the obvious choice but the Delaware Oaks (Grade III, $ 300,000, at 1 1/16 miles July 9) has the same purse and is home base for me (Wilmington, Delaware).
“Even though it is a Grade III we have to consider purses since she has already won multiple Grade I’s including the Breeders’ Cup. Jerry and I will decide shortly.”
Added Hollendorfer: “There’s not going to be much for her at Del Mar, so unless something changes, we would have to go elsewhere to run.
“I don’t know why people keep talking about running her against males. What would the point be? Mr. Porter wants to run her next year, for sure, so why gamble going against colts now?”
Zenyatta did beat males, namely in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Her trainer, John Shirreffs, who spent time in Hawaii hanging 10’s after serving with the Marines in Vietnam, liked what he saw when he watched Songbird run in a race for the first time.
“Yesterday was the first time I saw her race live,” he said. “I’ve seen her work a few times and I’ve seen her run on television. I thought she was magnificent yesterday. She looked so good.
“I saw Mike (Smith) kind of hunch over on her a little bit, get down on her out of the gate, and she went to the lead so easy. Then Bellamentary came up on her, matched strides briefly, and she said, ‘OK, I’ll let her go out in front for a little bit.’
“Then as soon as Bellamentary did, Songbird latched on and said, ‘Let’s see how well you want to run with me.’ She was just cruising, and she’s got such a great stride on her. She just picked it up. It looked like she was cantering home.
“It was a really hot day, but you didn’t even see any sweat on her neck or in between her legs. She was so composed.”
Songbird, as usual, was poetry in motion. Where is Keats now that we need him?
Smith, who has ridden the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro in every race, searched for adjectives Sunday to describe his experience with Songbird, superlatives seemingly depleted.
“I’m just blessed to be part of it,” said the Hall of Fame jockey, who turns 51 on Aug. 10. “She came out of the race good and she’s happy.
“I went to the barn this morning and she stuck her head out of the stall like nothing happened yesterday.”
Hollendorfer, meanwhile, didn’t deviate from his workaholic agenda Saturday night. How did he celebrate his birthday and the victory?
“I went home and went to bed.”
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