Race after race she is marching her way into the ranks of female racing royalty. Zenyatta. Rachel Alexandra. Royal Delta. Rags to Riches. All thoroughbred magnets that have connected so passionately with racing fans. Now it's Songbird's time.
Facing her stiffest competition yet in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (Grade-1) Songbird took command at the top of the stretch without any urging from jockey Mike Smith and roared down the stretch gliding to yet another easy victory. A perfect 11-for-11 in her racing career, Songbird hit the wire by 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Carina Mia at Parx racetrack, outside Philadelphia on the first Saturday of autumn.
Bred in Kentucky, Songbird was purchased by Rick Porter for $400,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, The filly has dominated her competition in all 11 of her career starts, winning by a combined 60 lengths. The fifth her narrowest margin of victory recorded as 3 3/4 lengths. She has captured seven Grade 1 races for earnings of nearly $3.5 million.
"When I talked with Mike about the race, we just wanted to jump (out of there) and see where we were," Hollendorfer said. "I didn't know what (Cathryn Sophia) was going to do. I thought she was capable of showing some speed. Songbird laid off the pace a little and ran when Mike asked her to. I'm very grateful for her and very pleased with the way that she did that today. I thought she was going great down the backside."
With the win, Songbird expanded her earnings to $3,372,000. Next up: the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff to take on multiple champions in Stellar Wind and Beholder as she takes on older horses for the first time on Nov. 4.
"She just continues to amaze me," said Porter, of Wilmington, Del.. I've been fortunate enough to have some nice horses, even though we've won Horse Of The Year with Havre de Grace, I'm amazed by her accomplishments. She gives me chills every time.
"I think Jerry (Hollendorfer) and I agree the Distaff is the race to run her in. There's some big cheese in that race, but that's the fun of it – hook the big ones and hopefully beat 'em. All along we've thought about sticking with the girls. I hope that she stays healthy, and it looks like she can beat Grade-1 boys; I think I can talk Jerry into taking a shot.”
The Cotillion was her second visit to the East Coast since July from her home base in southern California. This summer she romped in both the Alabama Stakes (Grade-1) and the Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade-1).
"She seems to have blossomed since Saratoga," Smith said. "I don't know if that is possible or not. It feels strange saying that as good as she is but look at her color, she was so playing in the post parade. I think she likes the cooler weather.
"She was so happy—so calm and cool. She was having fun today. She does things so easily and I'm so blessed to be a part of her."
There appears no chance the 3-year-old filly will be taking on older males in the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
“All along we thought about sticking with girls because Jerry doesn’t like running against the boys,” Porter said. “I do only if we win.”
"You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones, and there's a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind, those horses can really run," Hollendorfer said. " Our horse can really run, so we'd like to try those, and I think that's good competition. You have to get there first. We’re trying to think in the smartest way in handling this filly.”