Champion Songbird logged her first gallop over Saratoga Race Course's main track July 22. The undefeated daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, who is eyeing her ninth win when she starts in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) July 24, galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez.
Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird's Hall of Fame trainer, was on hand for the 7 a.m. training session, which also included schooling sessions in the starting gate and the paddock. Songbird, owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms, was well-behaved in the gate, inquisitive in the paddock, and appeared comfortable in her gallop.
Back at the barn, after Hollendorfer was satisfied his filly had cooled out to his liking, he spoke with the media and remarked he was happy with what he saw from his Eclipse Award winner.
"She had a good trip over the track," said Hollendorfer, who arrived from California a day earlier. "She tested (Rodriguez) a little bit out there. She got a little tough with him the second time around, so that was good--she likes the track."
When Hollendorfer was asked if there was pressure associated with training a horse with an unblemished record, he was quick to respond with a sly grin, "No, the pressure is if you don't have one."
In the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks, Songbird drew post 1 in the field of five. It's an assignment that she and jockey Mike Smith have had twice before; in her debut last July at Del Mar and in Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
"She's been in the one hole a couple of different times and it didn't seem to bother her, so I'm not worried about that," Hollendorfer said.
The 70-year-old trainer has had success in the past when he has shipped cross-country to run in grade I races at Saratoga. The Hollendorfer-trained Blind Luck won the 2010 Alabama (gr. I) and his Sweet Lulu was victorious in the 2013 Test (gr. I).
"It's always nice to be at a big meet like Saratoga," Hollendorfer said. "We're having our big summer meet out at Del Mar and that is important to us, too. But it's important to have a horse come here and run, and if you can do well here, I think that is well regarded in the racing community."