Songbird Shows Heart to Win CCA Oaks at Saratoga

Songbird showed true heart in winning the Grade-1 Coaching Club America Oaks (CCA Oaks) under jockey Mike Smith at Saratoga today. When foe Carina Mia tried to press her at the top of the stretch, Songbird dug in and pulled away to win by 5 1/4 lengths.

After a nearly flawless break (see photos below), Songbird led the five-horse field down the backside.  Carina Mia lurked second throughout and came to Songbird as they headed into the far turn.  When Carina Mia came within a neck of Songbird, Songbird got into a gear that we hadn’t seen yet and took the 1 1/8 miles CCA Oaks gate-to-wire to win in 1:49.56.

“Songbird’s got a big, beautiful stride. I didn’t panic. The more [Carina Mia] got on top of her, the more it made her aggressive,” said Smith. “I got after her a couple times right then, and that was pretty much it. I was surprised at how at the end she was actually pulling away again. But I knew at some point that Carina Mia was going to give me a serious test, an acid test, and she did – she made her do something she never had to do before. We’ll see what happens. A lot of times, a true champion, this will move them up. This was the first time someone got inside of her gut. A lot of times it’ll really move them up, and if that happens, oh my. If this race moves her up like I think it will, there’s no telling how good this filly is.”

Now a perfect 9-for-9 in her career, Songbird has now put skeptics to bed that questioned if she could come to the East Coast and beat the best outside of California and her 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies win.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said after the race that Songbird would stay at Saratoga with a possible next race being the Grade-1 Alabama on August 20.  Hollendorfer said that he would have to see how she comes out of the race and will then make a final decision. Here’s a quick snippet of that interview:

Here are some photos of all of the action at Saratoga:


Songbird right before the finish line (Photo: Michael Spector)


Jockey Mike Smith celebrates after the CCA Oaks (Photo: Michael Spector)


Songbird out broke her competition out of the gate and was able to get good position from her inside #1 post (Photo: Michael Spector)


Songbird was looking for the lead early in the CCA Oaks and her break was perfect to get in front (Photo: Michael Spector)


CCA Oaks Post Parade led by Songbird (Photo: Michael Spector)


Songbird looked ready in the paddock under jockey Mike Smith (Photo: Michael Spector)


Carina Mia for trainer Bill Mott showed that she is the second best filly in the 3-year old crop by taking it to Songbird at the top of the lane like no other horse has done in her career (Photo: Michael Spector)


Songbird was relaxed the whole time in the paddock as fans and media crowded her throughout the procession (Photo: Michael Spector)


It was celebration time for owner Jerry Porter of Fox Hill Farm, jockey Mike Smith and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the winners’ circle (Photo: Michael Spector)

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