Songbird works for CCA Oaks as fields take shape for Spa opening weekend stakes

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TwinSpires Staff

July 17th, 2016

Edited Press Release

As the 148th meet at Saratoga is set to get underway on Friday, July 22, fields for the six stakes races on tap for opening weekend are beginning to take shape.

Highlighting those stakes is the purse-enhanced $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) on Sunday, July 24, which will feature undefeated champion Songbird as she makes her highly anticipated Spa debut.

Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird broke her maiden with ease last July at Del Mar and went on to post three more dominating victories last year, all against Grade 1 company and capped off with a 5 3/4-length score in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, en route to earning the an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly.

As a three-year-old, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro has matched the perfect four-for-four record of her juvenile year with a quartet of victories at Santa Anita, including the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in April and, most recently, a 6 1/2-length romp in the Summertime Oaks (G2).

Songbird worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11.40 under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith at Del Mar on Sunday to ready for the CCA Oaks.

Del Mar clockers recorded interim splits of :23.20, :45.40 and :59 for the move, along with a seven-furlong gallop-out in 1:25 and a mile in 1:39.

Confirmed to take on the formidable Songbird in the 100th running of the Coaching Club American Oaks are Grade 1 winners Carina Mia and Weep No More.

A six-length scorer of the Eight Belles Stakes (G2) on May 6 at Churchill Downs, Carina Mia returned on the Belmont Stakes (G1) undercard with a gutsy off-the-pace bid to win the Acorn Stakes (G1) for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

The Malibu Moon filly took Saratoga’s fast dirt training track on Friday to ready for the CCA Oaks, breezing five furlongs in a bullet :59.22.

Ashland Stakes (G1) heroine Weep No More will be making her first start since finishing seventh in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6. The Rusty Arnold trainee's sophomore campaign got off to a sharp start with a three-race win streak, culminating with her 30-1 upset in the Ashland this spring at Keeneland, prior to her off-the-board finish in the Kentucky Oaks.

Eyeing a potential start in the Coaching Club American Oaks are Mother Goose Stakes (G1) victress Off the Tracks, Grade 3-placed dual stakes winner Flora Dora, Grade 2 runner-up Paola Queen, Grade 2-placed Kinsley Kisses and stakes debuter Unbridled Mo.

Kicking off the stakes action on the Friday, July 22, opening day are a pair of filly contests – the $200,000 Lake George Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds on the turf and $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (G3) for two-year-olds on the main track.

On target for the Lake George are unbeaten stakes winner Ancient Secret and Elysea's World for trainer Chad Brown. The duo both worked on Sunday, sharing the :48.01 bullet for a half-mile over Belmont Park’s firm turf.

 Also headed to the Lake George are Grade 3 vixen Baciami Piccola, Grade 3-placed stakes winner Gone Away, dual Grade 3-placed Outsider Art, Grade 3-placed Try Your Luck, Irish import Diamond Fields and last-out allowance winner Sky My Sky. Miss Grillo Stakes (G3) heroine Tin Type Gal and La Piba are possible.

The Schuylerville is expected to attract unbeaten Astoria Stakes heroine Bode's Dream from the barn of Todd Pletcher, along with recent maiden winners Fun, Harlands Thunder, Inspired Flight, Made Me Shiver, Olive Branch, Platinum Spark, Sweet Loretta and You Know Too. Lightning Dove and Summer Sally are questionable.

The stakes action will heat up on Saturday, July 23, with the first of 17 Grade 1s in the 40-day meet, the 78th running of the $500,000 Diana Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.

Probable contenders for the Diana are multiple Group 1 queen Dacita, recent winner of the New York Stakes (G2) on June 10; Grade 3 heroine Rainha Da Bateria, runner-up in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) two back; and Mrs McDougal, winner of the Lake George Stakes (G2) during last year’s Spa meet and third in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) most recently.

All three worked on Sunday for the Diana, with Dacita clocking a bullet half-mile in :48.34 on Saratoga’s good dirt training track, Rainha Da Bateria turning the same distance on the same surface in :48.34 and Mrs McDougal breezing five furlongs on Belmont’s firm turf in 1:01.

Also headed to the Diana are Makers 46 Mile (G1) vixen Miss Temple City, making her first start since finishing a valiant fourth at Royal Ascot last month; Grade 3 winner and recent Just a Game Stakes (G1) runner-up Recepta; Grade 2 scorer Isabella Sings, a three-length winner of the Eatontown Stakes (G3) most recently; Strike Charmer, who took the Beaugay Stakes (G3) at Belmont on May 13; Group 3 heroine Wekeela, who was runner-up in both the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) and Gamely Stakes (G1) since shipping stateside; and 2015 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) runner-up Itsonlyactingdad.

Just a Game queen Celestine and Canadian Horse of the Year Lexie Lou are questionable for the Diana.

Also on Saturday is the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (G3) for two-year-olds at six furlongs, which has attracted the attention of impressive debut winners Bitumen, Bronson, Random Walk, Star Empire and Zartera. Talk Logistics and Thurman Merman are possible.

Rounding out the stakes action on opening weekend is the $100,000 Lucky Coin Stakes on Monday, July 25.

For four-year-olds and up at 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon turf course, the Lucky Coin is expected to draw Undrafted, winner of the 2015 Diamond Jubilee (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot for trainer Wesley Ward, as well as Asset Inflation, Bold Thunder, Choctaw Chuck, Mosler, Sandy'z Slew, Spring to the Sky and Successful Native. Pool Winner is possible.

Songbird photo courtesy of Del Mar Twitter