The timing of a low-grade fever in the spring could not have been worse for Songbird, but with deft handling the undefeated champion juvenile filly of 2015 continued to deliver spectacular races through the summer.
Her connections' sights are now set on the big fall races for females. Songbird will try to extend perfection to an 11th straight race in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 24 at Parx Racing. She is the 1-2 morning-line favorite in the field of six 3-year-old fillies that includes Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Cathryn Sophia.
The fever Songbird suffered in mid-April prevented the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro from starting in the Kentucky Oaks. The illness followed a 3 3/4-length victory in the April 9 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), a performance that had Songbird on track to be the Oaks favorite.
But when the fever was discovered, Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer opted to rest their star.
She came back more than two months after the Santa Anita Oaks to post a 6 1/2-length score in the Summertime Oaks (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park before shipping east to win a pair of grade I races at Saratoga Race Course: the Coaching Club American Oaks by 5 1/4 lengths and the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) by seven lengths.
"It was great to see her come back from that," Hollendorfer said of the return from the fever. "Once she continued to have the fever for a few days, myself and Mr. Porter realized we were probably going to miss the Kentucky Oaks."
Hollendorfer said the support the owner helped.
"He just told me to take my time and get her over it; get her 100%," the trainer said. "We had some of the best vets looking over her and making decisions. So we gave her all the time she needed to come back 100% and it seems like we made the right decisions because she came back and ran very well."
Hollendorfer said Songbird came out of a half-mile breeze Sept. 18 in :47 3/5 at Santa Anita in good shape, and noted she shipped well to Parx. He added she also shipped well to Saratoga, and he's confident she can handle nearly any situation.
"She's been ultra-consistent through the entire time I've been training her, which started well before her first start," Hollendorfer said. "She was well thought of from when she was sent to me and has never done anything to make us think otherwise."
Hollendorfer said current focus is on winning the Cotillion with a long-term plan of targeting the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
"These kind of horses are few and far between; we're very glad to have her. Right now we're real happy with Songbird and hopefully we can continue winning with her."