Will Songbird Attempt New Tactics in Summertime Oaks?
Will Songbird Attempt New Tactics in Summertime Oaks? by Reinier Macatangay: Songbird, in all likelihood, does not fit the category of a one-dimensional speed horse, but the past performances do not prove her versatility yet as the filly has always either led or contested the lead before drawing clear.
On Saturday at Santa Anita Park, Songbird once again looks highly probable to win in the Summertime Oaks (GII), and she comes into this race with a new trick in store.
The Fox Hills Farms filly worked on June 11, and owner Rick Porter made a few comments online afterwards.
“It was about five lengths when they all broke,” he explained. “She went behind them at her own pace and then, as planned, started running at the quarter pole and split them as nice as could please and went the last eighth in a gallop out in 12 flat. The clocker told Jerry he got her in 1:24 flat even though they published 1:25 4/5ths.”
“It is nice to confirm she can rate. Great work and looking forward to the race next Saturday.”
From a logical standpoint, there is no better time to experiment with Songbird. Down the line, the talented runner will face other stars such as Kentucky Oaks (GI) champion Carolyn Sophia, Acorn (GI) winner Carina Mia, Go Maggie Go and more fillies rising up the 3-year-old female ranks. In this field, there are no such horses.
In fact, only six others were brave enough to enter the field, and just one of them owns a stakes win.
The rail horse That’s a Lady recently broke her maiden on the sixth attempt for trainer John Sadler. She originally cost a lot of money ($200,000), and could step forward as a young horse, but she needs more stakes experience.
Bellamentary starts next door, and she comes from the high-percentage Philip D’Amato barn and won an ungraded sprint by two lengths, one race after weakening to fifth against Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI).
From post three, Not Now Carolyn takes her shot, and the Keith Desormeaux-trained filly finished third in a turf optional claimer last month. She broke her maiden three starts ago in a one-mile dirt race on this racetrack.
Coppa, Bellamentary’s stablemate, begins from post five and owns two wins from two starts. Like Songbird, this one has shown a preference for running on the lead. Should Songbird show her speed, Coppa will be toast.
Unlike Coppa, Kay Kay in post six runs runs as a closer for Vladimir Cerin, and she will hope for a pace collapse. Note the four-furlong bullet on June 13, where she drilled faster than 44 other horses at the same distance.
On the far outside, Sutton’s Smile tends to come from midpack or behind as well, and D’Amato also trains her. At least, she placed third in the Hollywood Starlet (GI) (which featured a so-so field) and Jimmy Durante Stakes (GIII).
As can be seen from the competition, now is a good time to practice a new running style. As with her overmatched workmates, these lower-class fillies will not defeat Songbird no matter if she drills them up front or sits in midpack.
The real test for Songbird arrives later in the year, possibly at Saratoga in the Alabama Stakes (GI) or back home during the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI), in a stakes contest loaded with more talented horses.
If Songbird can use the newly-learned rating tactics in a front-loaded race against Grade I runners and succeed, then she is not one-dimensional.
Summertime Oaks 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 8 5:00 p.m. ET
1 That’s a Lady 20-1 Gonzalez/Sadler
2 Bellamentary 6-1 Garcia/D’Amato
3 Not Now Carolyn 20-1 Desormeaux/Desormeaux
4 Songbird 1-5 Smith/Hollendorfer
5 Coppa 5-1 Talamo/D’Amato
6 Kay Kay 30-1 Quinonez/Cerin
7 Sutton’s Smile 20-1 Prat/D’Amato