Fox Hill Farm’s undefeated champion Songbird was never asked to run in Saturday’s Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita, though she did have to rate behind another horse for the first time in her career. By the time she reached the far turn, Songbird was already long gone, and crossed the wire geared down to win by 6 1/2 lengths. The sophomore daughter of Medaglia d’Oro recorded a final time of 1:42.63 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“It was beautiful the way she just settled in,” gushed Hollendorfer. “I was very happy with the way she looked going down the backside. She was very comfortable, with her ears up, looking for something. The opportunity presented itself to be just a little off the pace and now we’ve shown everyone that we can do that.”
In recording her eighth lifetime win, Songbird rated kindly about a length off the lead of Bellamentary for the first half mile, stalking fractions of :22.97 and :45.95 under Hall-of-Famer Mike Smith. She began to inch forward on her own approaching the half-mile pole, moving to within a neck of the leading Bellamentary. By the three-eighths pole, Songbird held a one-length lead, and she continued to extend that lead through the length of the stretch. Under the wire, Songbird led Bellamentary and Kay Kay, second and third, respectively, by 6 1/2 lengths.
“She jumped out of there very well today,” said Smith. “The opportunity presented itself to sit just off Bellamentary going into the first turn and she didn’t allow me to take her back any further than she wanted me to take her back. She stayed in the spot that she wanted to be, cruising alongside of her and it’s just amazing, her cruising speed. She started lengthening her stride on the backside and I looked over at Bellamentary and I knew we were comfortable but that she was having trouble keeping up.”
Smith never moved aboard the Eclipse Award-winning filly, allowing her to race well within herself in her first start since developing a fever on the road to the Kentucky Oaks. Songbird missed 17 days of training after a strong showing in the Santa Anita Oaks, and was forced to miss the trip to Kentucky. Saturday’s victory was her first race since the fever, and she showed that she hadn’t lost a step in her time off.
“I knew she was going to fire today,” Smith continued. “I just tried to stay out of her way. She has wings on her hooves, I swear. She just goes into stealth mode. It scares me to think of how good she is, I try not to think of it.”
Bred in Kentucky by John Antonelli, Songbird was originally a $ 400,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select sale. She has put together eight back-to-back victories, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland last year. Her career earnings are now over $ 2 million.
“I don’t know about the Haskell (Grade I, $ 1,000,000, 1 1/8 miles for 3 yo’s at Monmouth Park on July 31),” said Hollendorfer. “Mr. Porter likes having input on these things so we’ll talk it over and make a plan, see what happens. I wouldn’t think we’d go to the Haskell but there are plenty of races, for her and we’ve talked about several of them. I think we’ll stick with the girls for now and see what happens.”
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