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Songbird Stays Undefeated in Dominating G1 Cotillion Stakes Win

© Joan Fairman Kanes

BENSALEM, Pa. (Saturday, September 24, 2016) – She came, she ran and she conquered.

Playing to a packed house of an estimated 16,000 cheering fans, Fox Hill Farm’s magnificent Songbird broadened the boundaries of her perfection with a virtuoso performance in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing, her eleventh consecutive victory without a loss.

Sent off as the overwhelming choice against five rival 3-year-old fillies, Songbird ($2.60) was floated wide into the first turn as Grade 1 Acorn winner Carina Mia went from the lead from post 1 and was taken well off the rail.

Songbird settled comfortably while tracking Carina Mia through early splits of 23.81 and 47.71 seconds, as Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner intently tracked those two from close range.

Given a shake of the reins by Hall Of Fame rider Mike Smith, Songbird readily drew alongside Carina Mia around the turn, took command just after six furlongs in 1:12.04 seconds and bounded away through the stretch while appearing well within herself, as Carina Mia held second by nearly seven lengths over Cathryn Sophia.

The order of finish was completed by Land Over Sea, Disco Rose and Queena Esther.

Songbird won by 5 ¾ lengths, and her combined margins of victory through 11 wins – 10 of them graded stakes – is more than 60 lengths.

“She was so happy, so calm and cool,” said Smith, the only rider last year’s Eclipse Award-winning filly has known. “She drew away…she was having fun today, that was the old her and I was so glad to see that. There have been times when I had to ask her for a jump or two, maybe in the Coaching Club American Oaks for about a good 100 yards, but she does things so easily and I’m so blessed to be a part of her. She seems to have blossomed. I don’t know if that’s possible or not.”

Songbird will most assuredly become the sixth Cotillion winner to be crowned champion 3-year-old filly. She ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.02 seconds over a fast track, and the $610,000 winner’s share swelled her lifetime earnings to $3,372,000 for owner Rick Porter and Hall Of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who are in agreement about where the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro will run next.

“ I think Jerry (Hollendorfer) and I agree the (Breeders’ Cup) Distaff is the race to run her in,” said Porter, who was in attendance Saturday after being hospitalized when Songbird won the Alabama.

“There’s some big cheese in that race, but that’s the fun of it – hook the big ones and hopefully beat ’em. All along we’ve thought about sticking with the girls. The time will come next year when we talk about it. I think I can talk (Jerry) into taking a shot. It doesn’t get any better than to watch her today, she was just gorgeous. I’m proud to watch her race, she gives me chills every time. It’s just so much fun to watch her run. I thought this race fit in with the Breeders’ Cup, the timing is perfect.”

Hollendorfer, who also saddled Cyrus Alexander to win the $150,000 Frosted earlier on the five-stakes program, noted, “It’s been a real pleasure working with Songbird and with Rick Porter and Mike Smith. Everybody seems to be on board with everything that we’re trying to do.

“I don’t think we need a race in between, and we didn’t plan one,” he continued. “Right now I would say we could train up to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll fly (home to California) early Wednesday morning, along with all the other California horses (Cyrus Alexander and Who’s Out).  You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones, and there’s a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind, those horses can really run. Our horse can really run, so we’d like to try those, and I think that’s good competition – if we all get there to the race at Santa Anita, so you have to get there first. We’ll be looking forward to it if we can get there, and I think that we will.”

Cotillion Quotes

RICK PORTER (Fox Hill Farm), owner of winner SONGBIRD: “We got a big one (Breeders’ Cup Distaff) coming now. She just continues to amaze me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some nice horses, even though we’ve won Horse Of The Year with Havre de Grace, I’m amazed by her accomplishments. It doesn’t get any better than to watch her today, she was just gorgeous. I’m proud to watch her race, she gives me chills every time. It’s just so much fun to watch her run. I thought this race fit in with the Breeders’ Cup, the timing is perfect. I think Jerry (Hollendorfer) and I agree the Distaff is the race to run her in. There’s some big cheese in that race, but that’s the fun of it – hook the big ones and hopefully beat ’em. All along we’ve thought about sticking with the girls. The time will come next year when we talk about it. I hope that she stays healthy, and it looks like she can beat Grade 1 boys; I think I can talk (Jerry) into taking a shot.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER: When I talked Mike (Smith) about the race, we just wanted to jump (out of there) and see where we were. I didn’t know what the outside horse (Cathryn Sophia) was going to do. I thought she was capable of showing some speed. Songbird laid off the pace a little and ran at the when Mike asked her to. I’m very grateful for her, and very pleased with the way that she did that today. I thought she was going great down the backside, Mike said she was looking around a little bit.

“It’s been a real pleasure working with Songbird and with Rick Porter and Mike Smith. Everybody seems to be on board with everything that we’re trying to do.

On whether this was a good set-up for the Breeders’ Cup: “I think so. I don’t think we need a race in between, and we didn’t plan one, so right now I would say we could train up to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll fly (home to California) early Wednesday morning, along with all the other California horses (Cyrus Alexander and Who’s Out).  You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones, and there’s a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind, those horses can really  run. Our horse can really run, so we’d like to try those, and I think that’s good competition – if we all get there to the race at Santa Anita, so you have to get there first. We’ll be looking forward to it if we can get there, and I think that we will.”

Winning Jockey Mike Smith aboard Songbird (#5):

Have you ever gotten to the bottom of her? “I haven’t so far.  There have been times when I had to ask her for a jump or two maybe in the Coaching Club American Oaks for about good 100 yards but she does things so easily and I’m so blessed to be a part of her.”

What was Songbird like today? “She was so happy, so calm and cool. She drew away…she was having fun today, that was the old her and I was so glad to see that. “

Difference between her since Saratoga? “She seems to have blossomed. I don’t know if that is possible or not. It feels strange saying that as good as she is but look at her color, she was so playing in the post-parade. I think she likes the cooler weather.”

Shortening her up in this race? “This race was perfect [for Breeders’ Cup Distaff] and this race will get her on her toes for [Breeders’ Cup]. When you ride a filly like this, just about anything works.

Parx Racing

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