ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 3, 2016)–Fox Hill Farms’ undefeated Eclipse Award winning Songbird towers over six rivals as she makes her 3-year-old debut Saturday in Santa Anita’s Grade II, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at a flat mile.
Idle since taking the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by 5 ¾ lengths on Oct. 31 at Keeneland, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Songbird will take a big step down the road to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks here on Saturday.
Considered by many industry experts to be the best 3-year-old in America, regardless of gender, Songbird’s Breeders’ Cup victory was even more impressive than her margin of victory would indicate, which led to immediate speculation that she may be pointed to the Kentucky Derby trail, but her connections, Rick Porter, of Foxhill, and Hollendorfer, have been steadfast in their commitment to stay with her own kind and point for the Oaks in three months.
Undefeated in four starts, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was a handy 4 ½ length winner of Santa Anita’s Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Chandelier Stakes two starts back on Sept. 26 and will thus be making her second start at The Great Race Place in the Las Virgenes. With earnings of $1,502,000, Songbird, who has won all of her races in virtual gate to wire fashion, will be ridden for the fifth consecutive time by Mike Smith.
Songbird’s primary opposition would appear to be trainer Phil D’Amato’s Street Fancy, who rallied from off the pace at odds of 6-1 to take the Grade I Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12. A first-out maiden special weight winner going 5 ½ furlongs here on Oct. 18, Street Fancy was ridden in all three of her starts by Smith, but will be handled for the first time on Saturday by Victor Espinoza.
A Kentucky-bred filly by Street Sense, Street Fancy is owned by Agave Racing Stable. Although she rallied from off the pace in her last two starts, Street Fancy, who overcame early traffic trouble in winning the Starlet, has good natural speed and could be much closer to the pace in the Las Virgenes.
Reddam Racing’s Land Over Sea, third, beaten six lengths by Songbird in the Grade I, seven furlong Del Mar Debutante Sept. 5, and second, beaten 4 ½ lengths by Songbird in the Grade I Chandelier here Sept. 26, was never a factor in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing seventh, 13 ½ lengths behind “Song.”
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Land Over Sea thus faces Songbird for the fourth consecutive time on Saturday and the Kentucky-bred daughter of Bellamy Road will have to hope for a reversal of recent fortunes. With an overall mark of 5-1-2-1, she has earnings of $148,000 and will be handled by regular rider Mario Gutierrez.
The complete field for the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes, to be run as the fifth race on a nine-race program Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: She’s a Warrior, Flavien Prat, 118; Land Over Sea, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Street Fancy, Victor Espinoza, 123; Jade Princess, Martin Garcia, 118; Decked Out, Kent Desormeaux, 118; Songbird, Mike Smith, 123, and Merirosvo, Drayden Van Dyke, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.