Stretching out to 1 1/4 miles for the first time proved no problem for unbeaten filly Songbird, as the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro waltzed to a clear lead in the far turn and was never challenged late in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 20 at Saratoga Race Course. Watch Video
Fox Hill Farms’ Songbird tracked Go Maggie Go early in the Alabama and then just after six furlongs in 1:11.13—and without any encourgement from regular rider Mike Smith—Songbird quickly opened a clear advantage midway through the far turn. She waltzed home in 2:03 on a fast track, seven lengths in front of Going for Broke, a daughter of Blame who earned a top-level placing in her first stakes try.
After a 5 1/4-length score in her New York debut last month in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I)—at that point Songbird’s longest race at 1 1/8 miles—adding another furlong Saturday proved little problem. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies, Songbird returned $2.40 to win and $2.10 to place.
There was no show wagering. Going for Broke paid $5.90 to place. Family Tree, a daughter of Smart Strike who entered off back-to-back graded stakes wins finished third in her grade I debut.
With the victory, Songbird has won all 10 starts of her career. Last year’s champion 2-year-old filly boasts six grade I wins, her two most recent New York victories and the Santa Anita Oaks this year, as well as last year’s Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier, and 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Racing Hall of Famer Smith, who has been aboard for all 10 of Songbird's wins, secured his first Alabama win since guiding Fox Hill Farms' Jostle to victory in 2000. Smith boasts five Alabama wins overall, with the other three coming in consecutive years from 1993-1995 on Sky Beauty, Heavenly Prize, and Pretty Discreet.
Jerry Hollendorfer, also a Racing Hall of Famer, picked up his second Alabama victory; his first since sending out Blind Luck in 2010.
With Saturday's win, Songbird has won her 10 races by a combined 54 3/4 lengths.
"I was just happy to see her out there and rating nicely, Mike looked pretty confident on her," Hollendorfer said. "I thought she would run well down the lane and she did. I never like to say it's easy but she's just got a lot of talent. She makes it looks easy but it's not easy. I just take every race as it comes up and do my best and she does her best."
Starting from post six, Songbird broke smoothly and galloped up alongside two-time grade II winner Go Maggie Go, tracking the daughter of Ghostzapper through a quarter-mile in :23:76 and a half-mile in :47.77. Songbird appeared to galloping easily throughout, even when she opened her clear advantage in the turn.
"This win was real gratifying. First time going a mile-and-quarter and you always think you can do it but you never know until you actually do it," Hollendorfer said. "She responded fine today and I'm very pleased with her. She wanted to go out there and she was free and easy so I wasn't worried about him trying to take her back. It looked like Mike was comfortable the whole race."
Hollendorfer said it's been great to see the support from fans of Songbird at Saratoga. He said Songbird's next start could be the Cotillion (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies Sept. 24 at Parx Racing.
"We're happy that people like Songbird and hopefully they like her as much as we do," Hollendofer said. "It's very gratifying to have a horse like this and see what she can do."
Chad Brown was pleased with Going for Broke, who ralled from sixth in the final half-mile to finish second.
"I thought she ran terrific," Brown said, crediting jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. with a patient ride. "I knew she could get the distance. In the end, Songbird showed her class. I think we have a really exciting filly moving forward. If we avoid Songbird, I think we'll win lots of big races. She's a lightly raced horse and her best days are yet to come."