Songbird ‘has wings on her hooves,’ flies to Summertime Oaks win

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Jen Caldwell

June 19th, 2016

Fox Hill Farms’ champion Songbird made her return off an unscheduled two-month break on Saturday in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park, and the dark bay miss never seemed to come out of a gallop the entire way home.

Jockey Mike Smith sat motionless on the undefeated filly as she tracked the early pace of :22.97 and :45.95 outside of Bellamentary. Songbird slid on past that rival to take command nearing the final turn and from there opened up while never coming out of first gear.

The Medaglia d’Oro sophomore continued to pull away from her overmatched rivals in the lane, eventually crossing under the wire 6 1/2 lengths in front of Bellamentary. Songbird stopped the clock in 1:42.63 for 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track and paid $2.10 as the prohibitive 1-20 favorite.

Bellamentary was no match for Songbird but did manage to keep her nose in front on the wire to take second over 31-1 longshot Kay Kay. That’s a Lady followed in fourth by another 3 3/4 lengths while Sutton’s Smile brought up the rear of the field.

It’s not just that Songbird wins every time she sets hoof to track, it’s how the filly does it – with no effort at all. To date she’s racked up a perfect eight-for-eight mark and the closest her rivals have been able to come has been 3 3/4 lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) in her prior two starts. Even then that number is deceptive because Smith had her geared down long before the wire.

Songbird was scheduled to return a lot sooner than the Summertime Oaks. However, the filly developed a fever following her Santa Anita Oaks romp and was forced to miss the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Saturday’s successful return to competition saw the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee boost her bankroll to $2,102,000 in career earnings, far surpassing her $400,000 purchase price as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected yearling.

Songbird was bred in Kentucky by John Antonelli and is out of the Grade 2-winning West Acre mare Ivanavinalot, making her a half-sister to the dam of Grade 3 scorer Mico Margarita.

Songbird photo courtesy of Benoit Photos


Mike Smith, jockey Songbird, winner: “She jumped out of there very well today. 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.

“We weren’t way behind and she was comfortable, very relaxed. If the opportunity ever presents itself, I don’t think it will be any problem. She has such a high cruising speed and what she does comfortably, other horses seem to have to work to do, so I’m certainly not going to take that away from her.

“I knew she was going to fire today. 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.

Smith, when asked if Songbird could have run faster if asked: “A lot faster. If I’d even just gathered her up and asked her, there’s no telling how fast she can run.

Smith, when asked if Songbird is ready to face the boys: “She’s been ready. She’s just that talented.”

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer Songbird, winner: “It was beautiful the way she just settled in. 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.

“We thought she could do that before, but you never know until you try. We’ll try to keep her doing bigger and better things.

“I don’t know about the ($1 million) Haskell ([G1] going 1 1/8 miles at Monmouth Park on July 31). 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. I’m thrilled, really.”