ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2016)–Idle since taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Oct. 31, Fox Hill Farms’ undefeated Eclipse Champion Songbird led throughout and annihilated five rivals in taking Santa Anita’s Grade II, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes by 6 ½ lengths under Mike Smith. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird covered a flat mile in 1:36.84 as she won for the fifth consecutive time.
“She broke good, she has speed,” said Hollendorfer. “There’s no doubt in my mind that she could rate if she had to, but usually she doesn’t have to…I was so pleased to see her way out there and cruising along pretty easy. At least now we got a race in her and we can try to make some more plans.
“We want to run here at Santa Anita. What we do between now and the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I, April 9), I don’t know. If we do anything. We’ll think about it and try to do the right thing.”
The prohibitive 1-9 favorite in the tote board, Songbird, a Kentucky-bred filly by Medaglia d’Oro, paid $2.10, $2.10 and $2.10.
“She has such a high cruising speed, she has gears,” said Smith, who has been aboard for all five of her wins. “You always worry about horses that are brilliant at two. Sometimes they won’t mature or grow anymore at three. You’re anxious to see what will happen…She seems to have improved. She seemed to up her game even more, especially mentally. She was very happy today and took it all in stride.
In addition to picking up $180,000 for the win, Songbird collected 10 qualifying points to the Kentucky Oaks May 6, which is where she is scheduled to run following the Santa Anita Oaks. With the Las Virgenes win, she now has earnings of $1,682,000.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling,” said Rick Porter, owner of Fox Hill Farms. “She just gives you goosebumps and you just wonder ‘How did I get this horse?’ I don’t think I’ve ever had one that’s so dominant and does things so easily. It would be nice to win the Kentucky Derby, but I’d like to do it with a nice colt…I think it’d be great for your ego, but the smart move is to stay on the path we’re on to the (Kentucky) Oaks.”
Longshot Land Over Sea, who was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, was off at 23-1 and paid $5.60 and $4.00.
She’s a Warrior, with Flavien Prat up, was off at 24-1 and paid $4.60 to show.
The second, third and fourth place (Merirosvo) finishers picked up four, two and one Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.