Reprinted from BloodHorse
In a race her connections believe sets up perfectly for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), Songbird was once again simply untouchable.
Fox Hill Farms’ champion filly toyed with fellow grade I winners Carina Mia and Cathryn Sophia Sept. 24 at Parx Racing in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (gr. I), then built her win streak to 11 with a 5 3/4-length victory under a hand ride from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
“She just continues to amaze me,” owner Rick Porter said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have some nice horses. Even though we’ve won Horse of the Year with Havre de Grace, I’m amazed by Songbird’s accomplishments. It doesn’t get any better than to watch her today. She was just gorgeous. I’m proud to watch her race. She gives me chills every time. It’s just so much fun to watch her run.”
Speedy Acorn Stakes (gr. I) winner Carina Mia took advantage of her inside post and made the lead going into the first turn to set the pace early in the 1 1/16-mile test, but 1-5 favorite Songbird was never far behind and easily ranged up from second to take command off the final turn. Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Cathryn Sophia gave chase from fourth, but tired and could not make up ground.
The Final time on a fast track was 1:44.02, as Songbird collected her seventh grade I for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“When I talked with Mike about the race, we just wanted to jump (out of there) and see where we were,” Hollendorfer said. “I didn’t know what (Cathryn Sophia) was going to do. I thought she was capable of showing some speed. Songbird laid off the pace a little and ran when Mike asked her to. I’m very grateful for her and very pleased with the way that she did that today. I thought she was going great down the backside.”
Songbird returned $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10, while Carina Mia brought $3.60 and $2.10 at odds of 6-1. Cathryn Sophia paid $2.10 as the 5-2 second choice, and was followed home by Land Over Sea, Disco Rose, and Queena Esther.
With the win, Songbird expanded her earnings to $3,372,000. A run in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Distaff could see her face multiple champions in Stellar Wind and Beholder as she takes on older horses for the first time.
“We got a big one coming now. I thought this race fit in with the Breeders’ Cup. The timing is perfect,” Porter said. “I think Jerry and I agree the Distaff is the race to run her in. There’s some big cheese in that race, but that’s the fun of it—hook the big ones and hopefully beat ’em. All along we’ve thought about sticking with the girls. The time will come next year when we talk about it. I hope that she stays healthy, and it looks like she can beat grade I boys; I think I can talk (Jerry) into taking a shot.”
Songbird, who won the 2015 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) as part of her Eclipse Award campaign to honors as the season’s top 2-year-old filly, has eclipsed all others in her division. The Cotillion marked her third visit to the East Coast this summer, on the heels of a Saratoga Race Course raiding trip that saw her win the Alabama (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I). In the latter, she defeated Carina Mia by 5 1/4 lengths.
“She seems to have blossomed (since then),” Smith said. “I don’t know if that is possible or not. It feels strange saying that as good as she is but look at her color, she was so playing in the post parade. I think she likes the cooler weather.
“She was so happy—so calm and cool. She drew away … She was having fun today. She does things so easily and I’m so blessed to be a part of her.”
Songbird will return to her Southern California base the morning of Sept. 28, along with Hollendorfer-trained Cyrus Alexander, who won the Pa Derby Champion Stakes for Spendthrift Farm and Stonestreet Stables earlier on the undercard, and Who’s Out, eighth in the Gallant Bob (gr. III).
“I don’t think we need a race in between (the Cotillion and the Distaff), and we didn’t plan one, so right now I would say we could train up to the Breeders’ Cup,” Hollendorfer said. “You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones, and there’s a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind, those horses can really run. Our horse can really run, so we’d like to try those, and I think that’s good competition, if we all get there to the race at Santa Anita. You have to get there first. We’ll be looking forward to it if we can get there, and I think that we will.”