Songbird polishes off Chandelier triumph

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Jen Caldwell

September 27th, 2015

Songbird moved her record to a perfect three-for-three on Saturday when easily taking the $300,750 Chandelier S. (G1) at Santa Anita Park by 4 1/2 lengths under jockey Mike Smith.

The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil did so while running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.79, easily eclipsing the 1:44.89 posted by Nyquist in the FrontRunner S. (G1) earlier on the card at the same distance. Songbird also did it more easily as Nyquist was forced to contend with a challenge from Swipe throughout the stretch run.

Gunning straight for the front when the gates opened, the dark bay miss proceeded through splits of :23.14, :46.85 and 1:11.09 pretty much under her own power. Jade Princess tracked in second but never appeared a real threat to the leader on the backstretch.

Entering the final turn, Smith jiggled the reins at Songbird and the juvenile filly began pulling away. Land Over Sea overtook Jade Princess rounding the turn and put in a nice run, but just could not catch the 1-5 favorite as she crossed under the wire easily the best.

It was 9 3/4 lengths behind Land Over Sea to third-place finisher Right There, who was rank early and raced in last before rallying in the lane. Vieja Luna followed in fourth by another 5 3/4 lengths.

Songbird earned an automatic spot in the gate for the October 31 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee successfully passed the distance hurdle when going that race’s 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time in the Chandelier, but will need to handle a cross-country trip for the big race in Kentucky.

She’ll bring with her an unbeaten mark that includes a 6 1/2-length maiden debut win and a 5 1/4-length romp in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), both at Del Mar.

Songbird photo courtesy of Benoit Photo


MIKE SMITH (Songbird, winner): “It lived up to the expectations. She opens that stride up and she has such a high cruising speed.

“Not only does she have the ability but she has the mind to go with it. There are so many horses with that kind of ability but a lot can get to them. She’s so intelligent, she’s so smart and listens to everything I tell her. I got her to fall asleep there on the lead but she fell asleep too much! I had to wake her up a little bit at the eighth pole but after that she jumped back into the bridle and it was over.

“She acted up a little bit at the break. I think breaking in front of the crowd the first time made her a little nervous. I was lucky to get away as well as I did but she’s so big and strong that when those horses came together on her it just made her go forward.”

MARIO GUTIERREZ (Land Over Sea, second): “Really good. I wasn’t going to make much ground on her. Mike Smith has a really talented filly, and with them being able to get that type of easy lead, I knew it was going to be tough for me to cut it. But I like my chances in the Breeders’ Cup. My filly runs from behind, so I really like our chances. She got the distance – we know now she can run a mile and a sixteenth. I think we’re good. I couldn’t ask for more.”


DAN WARD (assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird, winner): “It was very exciting. It was just what we wanted. She showed she can go two turns and now we’ve got five weeks (until the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies).”

DOUG O’NEILL (Land Over Sea, second): “She ran a great race. We’re very happy with the way she ran. Songbird is a great filly. She’s got that speed and stamina and when she got out there and was able to settle a little bit, you knew no one was going to beat her. We got beat by a really, really good filly, but I was really proud of our filly. She cut into it a little bit. She tried to make a race out of it, but Songbird was too tough and had too much left.

On future possibilities: “We’ll huddle up with Team Reddam, but I would think the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly would be the next up.”