There is no doubt that super-filly Songbird had an incredible career, winning 13 of her 15 races, wrote Bob Ehalt on thoroughbredracing.com. The end of that career was muddied, however, by a difficult-to-diagnose physical ailment which terminated the long-standing relationship between Songbird's owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
In her second start of 2017, Songbird won the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, barely beating a field of inferior horses.
“It was a special race to win but watching that race in person I knew things were not right with her,” Porter said. “She should have killed those horses, but she had to try so hard to win by a length.”
After her next-out defeat to Forever Unbridled, Porter insisted that Songbird be sent to Dr. Larry Bramlage in Kentucky. Hollendorfer couldn't find anything wrong with the filly, but after a number of tests, Bramlage diagnosed her with proximal suspensory ligament desmitis in both hind legs.
“It wasn't surprising that [Hollendorfer] didn't see that,” Bramlage said. “Trainers are looking at their horses when they are performing in a straight line and watching them at less than peak performance when they are training. Horses when they have symmetrical problems and they go in a straight line, they don't show that one leg is bothering them over another. If they have a problem with one leg then they get obvious lameness.”
“The cause of her problems and the fact that it was affecting her performance that was sad. But the fact that they understood that she wasn't herself and they got to the bottom of it to find out there was a physical reason for it, that's a good thing,” Bramlage continued. “People should learn from this. That's the way things should go more often. It was a happy ending to me.”
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