Songbird Has First Gallop at Saratoga

Songbird Has First Gallop at Saratoga

© Benoit Photo

NYRA Press Release: Songbird, the nation’s leading 3-year-old filly, had her first gallop over Saratoga’s main track on Friday morning. The undefeated daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who is eyeing her ninth career win in Sunday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez.

Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird’s Hall of Fame trainer, was on hand for the 7 a.m. training session, which also included the filly standing in the starting gate and visiting the paddock before the gallop. Songbird, who is owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, was well-behaved in the gate, inquisitive in the paddock, and appeared comfortable in her gallop.

Back at the barn, after Hollendorfer was satisfied his filly had cooled out to his liking, he spoke with the media and remarked he was happy with what he saw from his Eclipse Award champion.

“She had a good trip over the track,” said Hollendorfer, who arrived from California a day earlier. “She tested [Rodriguez] a little bit out there; she got a little tough with him the second time around, so that was good – she likes the track.”

When Hollendorfer was asked if there was pressure associated with training a horse with an unblemished record, he was quick to respond with a sly grin, “No, the pressure is if you don’t have one.”

In the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks, Songbird drew post 1 in the field of five. It’s an assignment that she and jockey Mike Smith has had twice before; in her career debut last July at Del Mar and in this year’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

“She’s been in the one-hole a couple of different times and it didn’t seem to bother her, so I’m not worried about that,” Hollendorfer said.

The 70-year-old trainer has had success in the past when he has shipped cross-country to run in Grade 1’s at Saratoga. The Hollendorfer-trained Blind Luck won the 2010 Alabama and his Sweet Lulu was victorious in the 2013 Test.

“It’s always nice to be at a big meet like Saratoga,” Hollendorfer commented. “We’re having our big summer meet out at Del Mar and that is important to us, too. But it’s important to have a horse come here and run, and if you can do well here, I think that is well-regarded in the racing community.”

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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 Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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