Fox Hill Farm’s superstar Songbird will look to reaffirm her place at the top of the filly and mare division as she leads a field of seven in her much anticipated return in the 49th running of the Grade 1, $ 750,000 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 10.
The start will be the first for Songbird, trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden throughout her career by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, since she was handed the first defeat of her career by three-time champion mare Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November.
The Medaglia d’Oro filly 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. Following a winter hiatus at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, she has been back training forwardly at Hollendorfer’s Southern California base, including a 46 2/5-second half-mile bullet work Tuesday morning.
“I worked her myself and she just went absolutely wonderful, she really did,” said Smith. “If the way she’s looking and the way she’s acting is any indication on how she’s going to come back, I couldn’t ask her to come back any better. She looks so good, I just can’t brag enough about her.
“She’s gotten older, and smarter, and she’s just calmer about everything,” he added. “She knows what’s going on, and when it’s race day, she gets her game face on. Hopefully, she’ll do it as well as she’s been doing, if not even better. I think there’s a chance she could be even better. She’s certainly bigger and stronger, I know that.”
Smith will be aboard Songbird in post 5.
Leading the charge to dethrone the two-time Eclipse Award winner in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 3 at Del Mar, is Three Chimney Farm’s Carina Mia.
The 4-year-old filly by Malibu Moon, twice second to Songbird last year in the CCA Oaks and the Grade 1 Cotillion, will try to get the better of her rival in their third meeting. Away from Songbird, Carina Mia picked up victories last year in the Grade 2 Eight Belles and the Grade 1 Acorn, before closing out her year with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She was a close third in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Humana Distaff May 6 at Churchill Downs, her only other start this year.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Carina Mia will be ridden by her regular jockey Julien Leparoux from the outside post.
Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Highway Star will shoot for graded stakes win number three this spring for trainer Rodrigo Ubillo, following half-length victories in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap in April and Grade 2 Ruffian on May 13. Highway Star, a New York-bred by Girolamo, will be ridden from the rail by Angel Arroyo.
Rounding out the field for the Odgen Phipps are Peter Brant and Joseph Allen’s Paid Up Subscriber, fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 La Troienne last time out; Charles Fipke’s Verve’s Tale, fourth in the Ruffian; Loooch Racing Stable’s Factory of Faith, fifth in the La Troienne; and the Bromans’ Bar of Gold, a close second in the Ruffian, finishing a half-length behind Highway Star.
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