Songbird Filly Remains Undefeated in Coaching Club American Oaks
Songbird Filly Remains Undefeated in Coaching Club American Oaks: Fox Hill Farm’s Songbird conquered her first test at the “Graveyard of Champions,” swallowing her competition to remain unbeaten in nine career starts with a 5 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.
Under her regular rider, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the reigning 2-year-old champion filly swept through the opening quarter-mile in 23.86 seconds and the half in 47.52 with Grade 1 Acorn winner Carina Mia a length back in second.
Carina Mia, ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, turned up the heat heading into the final turn, matching strides with the leader to the top of the stretch. Carina Mia proved no match for the superstar, however, as Songbird shook clear and opened up in the stretch, crossing the wire beneath a motionless Smith to complete the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.56.
“Songbird’s got a big, beautiful stride. I didn’t panic. The more [Carina Mia] got on top of her, the more it made her aggressive,” said Smith. “I got after her a couple times right then, and that was pretty much it. I was surprised at how at the end she was actually pulling away again. But I knew at some point that Carina Mia was going to give me a serious test, an acid test, and she did – she made her do something she never had to do before. We’ll see what happens. A lot of times, a true champion, this will move them up. This was the first time someone got inside of her gut. A lot of times it’ll really move them up, and if that happens, oh my. If this race moves her up like I think it will, there’s no telling how good this filly is.”
Favored at 3-10, the sophomore daughter of Medaglia d’Oro returned $2.60 for a $2 win wager. The $300,000 winner’s share boosts the Eclipse Award winner’s lifetime earnings to more than $2.4 million.
Songbird broke her maiden with ease last July at Del Mar and went on to post three more dominating victories last year, all against Grade 1 company and capped off with a 5 ¾-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, en route to earning the Eclipse Award for Champion Juvenile Filly.
As a 3-year-old, Songbird has improved to 5-for-5, including a quartet of victories at Santa Anita, topped by the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in April and a 6 ½-length romp in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks.
Carina Mia was well clear for second, four lengths ahead of Flora Dora in third, followed by Mo d’Amour and Weep No More to complete the order of finish.
“We thought we were going to get tested and we thought Julien would send [Carina Mia] at us early, which he did,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who saddled his first Saratoga starter since winning the Grade 1 Test with Sweet Lulu in 2013. “We got a chance to test our filly and she dug in. Great race from [trainer] Billy [Mott]’s filly, too.”
Source: Heather Pettinger, NYRA
Coaching Club American Oaks 2016 Replay: