Horse of the Week 3-9-16: Songbird

Horse of the Week 3-9-16: Songbird

© Benoit Photo

Jockey Mike Smith gives Songbird a pat on the neck after winning the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) in spectacular fashion at Santa Anita - © Benoit Photo
Jockey Mike Smith gives Songbird a pat on the neck after winning the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) in spectacular fashion at Santa Anita – © Benoit Photo

The spectacular filly Songbird, who brought her unbeaten record to a perfect 6-for-6 with an easy win in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita, has been voted the winner of The Turf Board’s inaugural “Horse of the Week” award!

From a poll of 21 racing fans on Twitter, Songbird received an impressive 81% of the votes. Blofeld, winner of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), and Shagaf, winner of the Gotham Stakes (gr. II), finished in a tie for second with each receiving just under 10% of the votes.

Songbird’s victory in the Santa Ysabel Stakes was a sight to behold. With jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, Songbird got off to a quick start and seized command of the early lead. After running her pursuers off their feet through six furlongs in 1:09.98 seconds, Songbird pulled away from the field under no urging at all, turning for home well within herself and bringing to mind memories of the great Rachel Alexandra. After leading by six lengths with a furlong to go, Songbird cruised home to win in completely easy fashion by 3 3/4 lengths. It’s no stretch of the imagination to believe she could have won by a dozen lengths or more if asked.

In the official post-race quotes compiled by Santa Anita, Mike Smith praised Songbird’s incredibly easy victory. “It was incredible. I got a bit star struck when I looked over at the big screen to see if I needed to do a little bit of work and I was just in awe of how easily she was doing things, again. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the big screen. I told myself, ‘I better get back to it and stay on.’ She was really on her game.”

“I could have let someone go to the lead today, but I didn’t because it was there and it was that easy for her.” Smith continued. “But if someone was that content on it, they’ll have to definitely run to be able to do it. She’ll let them do it, but they’ll have to throw some numbers up there but I don’t think it’d be a problem. She reminds me a lot of Beholder in her three-year-old year, turning four. When she was three, she was very aggressive, on the lead all the time. But she started to get smarter with age and Songbird seems to be doing the same thing.”

“Jerry [Hollendorfer, trainer of Songbird] has done such a tremendous job. Jerry, Dan and the whole crew have done such a good job of keeping this great filly really happy. I think she’s happy and getting happier every time I get on her. I’m just blessed that I get to keep the weight on her back. I hope I continue to stay on.”

“I think she got a whole lot more out of today then we would have in the a.m. She got to go a half mile in forty-six. She had to do some work today but she’s really, really good. You can’t just go around there and not do any work because eventually someone is going to make you run at some point, and you have to be ready.”

Songbird’s next start is expected to come in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) on April 9th at Santa Anita, with the $1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on May 6th at Churchill Downs being the long-term goal.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board! Also, if you’re a fan of horse racing history, please check out my upcoming book Lost to the Ages: 10 Forgotten Champions of U.S. Horse Racingscheduled for release later this year!

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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