Songbird Denies ‘Graveyard Of Champions’ Once Again With Alabama Victory

by | 08.20.2016 | 6:38pm
Songbird stays perfect to win the G1 Alabama with ease

Fox Hill Farms' Songbird was able to deny the “Graveyard of Champions” once again on Saturday afternoon, defeating six other sophomore fillies to keep her perfect record intact in the G1 Alabama Stakes. The undefeated daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was ridden to perfection by Mike Smith, covering the 1 1/4 miles over Saratoga's fast main track in 2:03.00 while seven lengths in front of her rivals at the wire. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird has now recorded victories in all ten of her lifetime starts, with six Grade 1's on her resume.

“I was just happy to see her out there and rating nicely, Mike looked pretty confident on her,” Hollendorfer said. “I thought she would run well down the lane and she did. I never like to say it's easy but she's just got a lot of talent. She makes it looks easy but it's not easy. I just take every race as it comes up and do my best and she does her best.”

Songbird broke sharply from the next-to-outside post position, instantly finding Go Maggie Go along her inside to challenge for the lead. Smith guided Songbird right alongside that rival about a half-length back, waiting patiently through the first turn while Go Maggie Go set a first quarter fraction of :23.76. Down the backstretch, Songbird's high cruising speed simply carried her forward to be even with Go Maggie Go, marking the half-mile in :47.77 while expending little to no effort. Directly behind the leading pair was Dark Nile and Family Tree, tracking the early pace. At one point before the far turn, Songbird had her head in front, but Go Maggie Go put forth a bit more effort to regain the advantage entering the turn.

After three-quarters in 1:11.13, Smith simply shook the reins at Songbird and she flew away from Go Maggie Go. At the head of the lane, the filly was four lengths in front of her rivals. Smith threw a couple more crosses at her down the stretch just to keep her attention, but she was never threatened, crossing the wire geared down with a seven-length advantage. Going For Broke closed from very far back to out-finish Family Tree for second, and Weep No More was fourth.

“We were running along a pretty good clip and I was kind of surprised that someone was going with her [Go Maggie Go] which was fine,” Smith said. “We can't always get an easy lead and she was comfortable going along down the backside and well within in herself. I knew she going to run well. Today was just more of an emotional day for the whole team with Mr. [Rick] Porter being ill and having to go to the hospital. I pray he got to watch this and lift his spirits.”

Bred in Kentucky by John Antonelli, Songbird was a $400,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale. Her perfect record of ten wins from ten starts includes the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and earned her the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-year-old filly last year. She is well on her way to a second Eclipse Award, despite missing the Kentucky Oaks due to a fever, as she has done everything asked of her with absolute ease. Songbird boasts overall earnings of over $2.75 million after the Alabama victory.

“This win was real gratifying,” Hollendorfer continued. “First time going a mile and quarter and you always think you can do it but you never know until you actually do it. She responded fine today and I'm very pleased with her. She wanted to go out there and she was free and easy so I wasn't worried about him trying to take her back. It looked like Mike was comfortable the whole race.”

Watch the race replay here:

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