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NYRA Boosts CCA Oaks Purse, Lands Songbird

The Coaching Club American Oaks purse was boosted from $300,000 to $500,000.

Fox Hill Farms' undefeated champion filly Songbird will be pointed to the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), which will feature a purse boost to $500,000, for her next start July 24 at Saratoga Race Course.

Rick Porter, owner of Fox Hill Farms, confirmed the plans July 6 after the New York Racing Association announced the purse for the Coaching Club American Oaks would be increased from $300,000 to $500,000 contingent on Songbird competing in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

"We had talked to them about it," Porter said. "It's a very fair offer by them to raise the purse from $300,000 to $500,000. With the slots money they have up there, it probably should be a $500,000 or $600,000 race anyway."

Songbird most recently won the Summertime Oaks (gr. II) June 18 at Santa Anita Park, giving her eight wins in as many starts, including four grade I scores. She won three grade Is last year, capped by a 5 3/4-length victory in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

BALAN: Songbird Maintains Dominance in Summertime

A start at Saratoga would be just her second away from Southern California; the Medaglia d'Oro filly won the Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

"The New York Racing Association is committed to featuring the best horses at each of our racetracks," NYRA president Chris Kay said of the purse increase to attract Songbird.

Fox Hill Farms won the 2000 edition of the Coaching Club American Oaks with Jostle.

"I love racing in grade I races before the fans at Saratoga," Porter said. "I also love going to the winner's circle after those races but we'll have some work to do first."

Porter said after meeting with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, they planned to ship Songbird to Saratoga July 19. Porter said they may consider going a bit earlier than that date.

The plan, Porter said, is for the Racing Hall of Fame trainer to stay with Songbird during her stay at Saratoga. Porter said they'll work to keep her feeling at home by also sending her regular assistant trainer, groom, and exercise rider.

NYRA officials said the sliding scale of awards for the field would include $300,000 to the winner, $100,000 for second place, $50,000 to third, $25,000 to fourth, $15,000 to fifth, and $10,000 divided equally among the remaining finishers.

Nominations for the running of the 2016 Coaching Club American Oaks close July 9. Subscriptions are $300 each. To pass the entry box is $1,500 and an additional $1,500 is required to start in the race.

The Coaching Club American Oaks highlights the opening week of the 148th race meet at Saratoga, which begins July 22.