Lauded all week as the toughest field that Rick Porter's undefeated Songbird had yet faced, the G1 Cotillion proved facile for the sophomore daughter of Medaglia d'Oro as she glided to her 11th career victory under another hand ride from Mike Smith. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird covered the 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:44.02, drawing away from Carina Mia by 5 3/4 lengths on the wire.
“She was so happy, so calm and cool. She drew away,” said Smith. “She was having fun today. That was the old her and I was so glad to see that.”
Songbird was the quickest out of the gates, but when Carina Mia came up the rail from her inside post to take the lead, the champion filly did not falter and rated kindly just off the pace for Smith. Longshot Disco Rose took up position along the rail in third as Cathryn Sophia tracked Songbird from fourth. Through opening fractions of 23.81 and 47.71, Carina Mia led Songbird by approximately three-quarters of a length down the backstretch.
“When I talked Mike (Smith) about the race, we just wanted to jump (out of there) and see where we were,” relayed Hollendorfer. “I didn't know what the outside horse (Cathryn Sophia) was going to do. I thought she was capable of showing some speed. Songbird laid off the pace a little and ran at them 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, Mike said she was looking around a little bit.”
Rounding the far turn, Songbird moved up under her own power to challenge Carina Mia, taking her time to draw even with the leader. Cathryn Sophia was just a length behind them in third, but Songbird and Carina Mia extended their advantage to nearly three lengths by the top of the lane. Songbird straightened out just a hair in front of Carina Mia, and though she was tardy changing leads, her victory was never in question as she powered away through the stretch under a hand ride. Songbird passed under the wire 5 3/4 lengths in front of a very game Carina Mia, with Cathryn Sophia laboring home in third. Land Over Sea was fourth.
“She seems to have blossomed,” Smith continued. “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.”
Bred in Kentucky by John Antonelli, Songbird was a $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase. The filly has dominated her competition in all 11 of her career starts, with her narrowest margin of victory recorded as 3 3/4 lengths. She has captured seven Grade 1 races for earnings of nearly $3.5 million, and will head to the Breeders' Cup Distaff to take on champions Beholder and Stellar Wind in her next start.
“We got a big one (Breeders' Cup Distaff) coming now,” Porter said. “She just continues to amaze me. 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 her 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. I thought this race fit in with the Breeders' Cup, the timing is perfect. I think Jerry (Hollendorfer) 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 1 boys; I think I can talk (Jerry) into taking a shot.”
Watch the race replay here:
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