Idle since winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9 by nearly four lengths, Fox Hill Farms' undefeated superstar filly Songbird heads a field of seven 3-year-old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth in Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Mike Smith in all of her previous starts, including a 5 ¾ length romp four starts back in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland on Oct. 31, Songbird spiked a fever following the Santa Anita Oaks, forcing her to miss a planned engagement in the Kentucky Oaks on May 6.
SONGBIRD: Voted the nation's 2015 Eclipse Award Champion 2-year-old Filly, she's been a gate to wire winner in five of her seven wins. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, she sped to the lead and was a rollicking 6 ½ length winner in her 3-year-old bow, Santa Anita's Grade II, one mile Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 6. A 3 ¾ length winner of the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Santa Ysabel here on March 5, she has been heavily favored in six out of her seven career starts, and has been the overwhelming odds on choice in her last five.
A winner of her seven races by a combined 36 lengths, there were many industry observers who felt she may have been the best sophomore, filly or colt, in the country this spring.
“You always worry about horses that are brilliant at two,” said Smith following her win in the Las Virgenes. “Sometimes they won't mature or grow anymore at three…She seems to have improved. She seemed to up her game even more, especially mentally. She was very happy today and took it all in stride.”
Rick Porter, owner of Fox Hill Farms, Inc., was also on-hand following the Las Virgenes on Feb. 6.
“She just gives you goose bumps and you just wonder 'How did I get this horse?' I don't think I've ever had one that's so dominant and does things so easily.”
Songbird has had four works since the Santa Anita Oaks, her most recent a dynamite seven furlongs here on Saturday in 1:25.80.
“She went the last eighth in spectacular fashion, 12 seconds flat,” said Hollendorfer. “She's ready.”
Songbird, who was ridden Saturday by exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez, worked in company with stablemates Little Curlin and The Gomper, both of whom were given five furlong times. Songbird's fractional times were 25.40, 37.40, 49 flat, 1:13 flat and she galloped out a mile in 1:39.
“Jerry wanted to go this morning when he sent two of his nice horses right out in front of Songbird,” said Porter via Facebook on Saturday. “It's nice to confirm she can rate. Great work and looking forward to the race next Saturday.”
From her seven victories, Songbird has earnings of $1,982,000.
BELLAMENTARY: One of three fillies entered by leading trainer Phil D'Amato, she pressed the pace and went on to a solid 2 ¼ length win in the seven furlong Angels Flight Stakes here on May 15. Fifth, beaten 10 lengths by Songbird over a sloppy main track in the Santa Anita Oaks April 9, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Bellamy Road will be forwardly placed but would be ill-served if asked to challenge Songbird early. Owned by Little Red Feather Racing and RM Racing, two of her three lifetime wins have come sprinting. The Summertime Oaks will mark her sixth career start.
COPPA: The second D'Amato trainee, this Florida-bred filly by Yesbyjimminy, owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino is undefeated in a pair of sprints and figures to blast off to the early lead on Saturday. Favored in both starts at 6 ½ furlongs, she was a 3 ¼ length first-out maiden winner at Del Mar on Nov. 1 and returned to the races to win by an identical margin here on May 21.
SUTTON'S SMILE: The most experienced of the D'Amato threesome, she'll be making her ninth career start on Saturday. With six of her eight races coming on turf, she exits a second place performance going a mile and one eighth on grass here May 20 and it's expected she'll be taken off the pace as she transitions to dirt in the Summertime Oaks. Beaten 19 ¾ lengths by Songbird in her debut run going six furlongs at Del Mar July 26, the Kentucky-bred by Paddy O'Prado faces a tall order on Saturday. Owned by Turnley Farms Louisiana, LLC, she is 8-1-2-3 overall with earnings of $111,635.
THE GRADE II SUMMERTIME OAKS IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
Race 8 (of 9)
1. That's a Lady, Santiago Gonzalez, 120
2. Bellamentary, Martin Garcia, 120
3. Not Now Carolyn, Kent Desormeaux, 120
4. Songbird, Mike Smith, 124
5. Coppa, Joe Talamo, 120
6. Kay Kay, Alonso Quinonez, 120
7. Sutton's Smile, Flavien Prat, 120
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