Songbird highlights a stakes-packed weekend; inside posts don't fare well on Santa Anita main track

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 10th, 2016


There were a handful of graded races over the weekend of the winter/spring meeting at Santa Anita, headlined by a superstar filly.

Las Virgenes S. (G2): Fox Hill Farms’ SONGBIRD (Unbridled’s Song) took the lead soon after the break and sailed home a most facile 6 ½-length heroine for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The unbeaten champion sped one mile on the fast main surface in 1:36 4/5 with Mike Smith in the silks.

Robert B. Lewis S. (G3): Michael Lund Petersen’s MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya) gained the lead while three-wide in the stretch and inched clear to post a measured 1 ½-length tally under the guidance of Gary Stevens. The Grade 1-winning three-year-old went 1 1/16 miles on the fast main oval in 1:43 1/5 for trainer Bob Baffert.

San Antonio S. (G2): Watson, Weitman and Pegram’s HOPPERTUNITY (Any Given Saturday) gained a narrow edge inside the final furlong and held off a stern late test en route to a nose tally with Flavien Prat. The five-year-old clocked 1 1/8 miles on the fast dirt surface in 1:48 2/5 and is headed to the Dubai World Cup (G1) for Baffert.

San Marcos S. (G2): Bienstock and Winner’s FLAMBOYANT (Peer Gynt) advanced to challenge nearing midstretch and got the job done late, scoring by three-parts of a length under Brice Blanc. The gelded five-year-old went 1 ¼ miles on the turf labeled “good” in 2:01 2/5 for conditioner Paddy Gallagher.

Palos Verdes S. (G2): C R K Stable’s KOBE’S BACK (Flatter) was last to the top of the lane but put in his customary late burst to get up by a half-length for trainer Peter Eurton. The five-year-old finished off six furlongs in a swift 1:08 3/5 with Gary Stevens in the silks.

Track Stats

From a total of 33 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 36 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 58 percent of the wins. From 23 frays contested on the dirt oval, five animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (22 percent), while none of the 10 grassy runs this past week were taken in wire-to-wire fashion.

Speed did not dominate here as it did last week but being forwardly placed was surely a good thing, as was being off the rail a path or two with 17 of the 23 (74 percent) winners breaking from outside of posts 1-3. Just a single runner breaking from the rail on the main surface came home first last week, doing so in a last-to-first manner.

The turf played mostly fairly in our view, even though none led at each call on the sod.

Meet Totals












84 (36%)

2nd Choices:


44 (19%)

Turf Wire:


12 (20%)

Dirt Wire:


47 (27%)





Thursday (2/4)

3RD – JOHN’S SUCCESS (Colonel John) was supposed to win on paper and did so pretty handily with Rafael Bejarano in the silks. The four-year-old was always well placed and never seriously challenged late, continuing a decent form run for Phil d’Amato.

7TH – DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy) took the lead out of the gate and left this field in his wake late, posting a fine 5 ¾-length triumph. The sophomore colt has run huge in two straight following an unplaced debut and should be headed to a Kentucky Derby prep race.

Friday (2/5)

3RD – CALM THE SEA (Stormy Atlantic) took a short lead in the lane and held sway late, securing a fine first-out tally for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The four-year-old filly won at the tough seven-furlong trip in her debut offering and might have a nice future with development.

7TH – MIRAGE (Oasis Dream) gained a short lead in late stretch and gamely prevailed for conditioner Simon Callaghan. The sophomore miss appreciated the class relief combined with the addition of blinkers, and she could be headed back to stakes company.

Saturday (2/6)

3RD – FOURTH WATCH (Tapit) rated close to a moderate pace and took command late in a sharp debut offering for conditioner Carla Gaines. The three-year-old filly didn’t set the teletimer on fire but did look the part from a visual standpoint, and we like her as a prospect going forward.

9TH – TEN BLESSINGS (Smart Strike) is bred to be a star and could be one in the making based upon his debut. Trained by Baffert, the sophomore colt overcame a poor break to run past his rivals with authority from off the pace. The first-timer is bred to run longer and we love his potential going forward.

Sunday (2/7)

1ST – STARLITE STYLE (Unusual Heat) got closer approaching the turn for home after being well back early and the first-time starter ran well to the finish, securing runner-up honors in a nice effort. The Kenny Black pupil surely could be graduating soon with improvement and a bit of seasoning.

A Look Ahead

A pair of graded races will take place at Santa Anita on Saturday, with the $200,000 Arcadia (G2) and $200,000 Santa Maria S. (G2) serving as co-features.