HOW GOOD IS THAT FILLY SONGBIRD???
Most major sports are like the night sky. There are many stars. As your gazing toward the heavens, you will however notice, some stars are simply brighter than others.
The ever so exciting world of Thoroughbred racing has been like the Milky Way. Littered with brightness over the years, some runners have been meteors that burned out rather quickly while others have been like the Sun and continued to shine long after their racing careers have ended. Currently, there is an Alpha Centauri in the running ranks that could easily ascend to the status of blinding brightness.
Songbird is a three-year old filly with an unblemished record. Eleven lifetime starts has yielded eleven wins and most have come with apparent ease. Of those wins, seven have been in grade 1 races, with two grade 2 wins and one grade 3 victory. Considering the level of competition she has faced, this daughter of Medalia D’Oro has without question proven her worth.
“She has just been unbelievable,” says her jockey Mike Smith. “What is especially impressive is when you think about the level of horses she has beaten. Kathryn Sophia (Kentucky Oaks) and Carina Mia (Acorn) are both grade 1 winners and she beat them easily. It’s just kind of crazy when you put it into perspective.”
One of the things that also impresses her hall of fame rider and the rest of the racing world is the fact she has traveled. Horses can develop a certain affinity for certain tracks because of surface makeup or surroundings. Based on the West coast for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird has debunked any thoughts she is only a California girl. Those seven grade 1 wins have come at five different tracks including two monster performances at Saratoga (Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama) which has long been considered the “graveyard of champions”.
“Earlier in her career people said she had never really traveled even though we went to Keeneland and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race,” says Smith,. “Her last three wins have come at Saratoga and in Pennsylvania (PARX) against others in their backyard. She has done it all.”
With over 5,200 career wins and ranking as the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup victories (22), Smith has been aboard some good ones to say the very least. Having booted home the fabulous female Zenyatta to 19 wins in a row to begin her career, his handling of her tells us a little something about his winning ways. Expectations are normally high for riders like “Big Money” Mike, so for this veteran to be awe struck tells the rest of us what we need to know.
“She is naturally a very swift horse, but it is not all about her speed,” says Smith. “She is just such an intelligent horse that knows how to work and seems to understand everything so well. She is such a pleasure to be around. My job most of the time is to just try and get her happy and then let her do what she does. Songbird is one of those runners where as a rider you just want to stay out of her way.”
Songbird will be one of the stars when she makes her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on November 4. As bright as she has been, this may be an opportunity to shine even more as she takes on older fillies for the first time.
“We think that no matter how many races you have won, you always have to prove yourself ,” says her conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer who ranks third in all-time wins as a trainer. “She obviously is one of the more special horses we have ever had, but it is important to show it on the track.”
Hall of fame connections, astounding margins of victory and an unblemished record sound like a one-digit math equation. The Breeders’ Cup will give Songbird a chance to perhaps shine brighter than ever.
“She is a lot more versatile than most people realize,” says Smith. “She has been on the lead in most of her recent races, but she has enough talent to win from anywhere. She is just that good.”