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Is Songbird Ahead of Cathryn Sophia, Carina Mia?

Is Songbird Ahead of Cathryn Sophia, Carina Mia? by Reinier Macatangay: With one 2016 Grade I win in tow, Fox Hill Farm’s Songbird needs to hit the accelerate button soon. From a talent standpoint, she has looked nothing but brilliant in four starts this year, but in terms of leading 3-year-old filly based on overall campaign and accomplishments, Cathryn Sophia and Carina Mia remain in the discussion.

Songbird Breeders' Cup 2016

Fox Hill Farms’ Songbird and jockey Mike Smith cruise to a easy victory in the Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks, Saturday, June 18, 2016 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.
Photo: Benoit

Readers might wonder how it is possible to rank Cathryn Sophia or Carina Mia on par with Songbird at the halfway point. Both of their campaigns simply look more well-rounded on paper, even with the losses.

Cathryn Sophia started off the year by winning the Forward Gal Stakes (GII) and Davona Dale Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park, before finishing third in the Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland against quality fillies. The field included Rachel’s Valentina, the highly regarded Carina Mia and eventual winner Weep No More.

The John Servis-trained filly rebounded to win the Kentucky Oaks (GI) in a dominating performance, and then disappointed again in the Acorn Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park when Carina Mia turned the tables and won.

With one Grade I win, Cathryn Sophia still holds a shot at the Eclipse Award if she can close out the year strongly. Her losses, which were not by much, are forgivable because they came against good horses.

Carina Mia owns two wins out of three starts this year, with her season debut resulting in the loss at Keeneland.

She obviously rebounded strongly in the Eight Belles Stakes (GII) at Churchill, when she won by six lengths for trainer Bill Mott. The field included notable names such as Nickname and Stageplay.

As pointed out earlier, Carina Mia then defeated Cathryn Sophia in the Acorn at Belmont, which means she traveled to three different racetracks to face quality fields, and picked up at least one Grade I in the process.

In Songbird’s case, she stayed home at Santa Anita Park in her 2016 races, capturing the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) for her lone Grade I win, although every race of Songbird has dazzled anyone who watched them.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Fox Hill Farm understandably skipped the Kentucky Oaks because Songbird had a fever. The fact does not change her record though, and the fields she faced were, for the most part, subpar.

Songbird regained her health and proved her talent again by capturing the Summertime Oaks (GII) last weekend. Still, Fox Hill Farm owner Rick Porter does not sound certain about heading into a Grade I race next.

Porter wrote the following on the Fox Hill Farm Facebook Page:

“The Coaching Club American Oaks is the obvious choice but the Delaware Oaks has the same purse and is homebase for me. Even though it is a grade 3 we have to consider purses since she has already won multiple grade 1’s including the Breeders’ Cup. Jerry and I will decide shortly.”

Songbird’s Breeders’ Cup win came last fall, which means the race should not count for this year’s Eclipse Award, but Porter probably referred to her career overall. The point is, her connections are campaigning conservatively right now, and although it is easy to criticize those who play “armchair owner,” sometimes the argument is correct.

If Songbird’s schedule is not ramped up soon, Cathryn Sophia or Carina Mia could make the case for the Eclipse Award with an amazing campaign in the second half, and either of them will deserve it with a few more Grade I wins.