Two-time Eclipse champion filly Songbird has sung her last notes on the race course.
Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm announced the decision to retire her Thursday morning after a veterinary evaluation showed an enlargement of both of her hind suspensory ligaments.
In her last race, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on August 26, Songbird led into the deep stretch before being passed late on the outside by Forever Unbridled, only her second career loss in 15 starts. Following the race, Porter had a hunch that something was amiss.
“Something’s not right,” he said at the time. “She is just not right, and I will get her checked out. She doesn’t let horses pass her, that was probably part of it. I am not comfortable that she is 100% healthy. This is not the Songbird we have been seeing the last three races, just don’t seem to be the same Songbird; (it’s) only right to have her checked out.”
Porter arranged for his superstar to stop off in Lexington, Kentucky, for an evaluation at Rood & Riddle before returning home to California. It was there that Dr. Larry Bramlage discovered her injury.
“Her lameness was readily apparent to Dr. Bramlage, and ultrasounds proved both hind suspensories were enlarged,” Porter said. “Since suspensories are usually the result of something else amiss and he knew of her history, Dr. Bramlage shot a set of x-rays of the area of bone Songbird had issues with over the Winter. A distinct line on the bone was present. We followed up with a bone scan, and then an MRI.
“Unfortunately, the results weren’t what we wanted to see. We have a situation where it’d be dangerous for Songbird to continue training, and Dr. Bramlage isn’t optimistic that the site will fully resolve even if given ample time.”
The news was a devastating blow to the horse racing community. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won her first 11 starts before losing to the legendart mare Beholder by the slimmest of margins in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. After taking an extended vacation to help heal, Songbird returned on June 10 at Belmont in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. She then followed up with what would become her final career win in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in Porter’s home state.
“It’s something we always wanted to win,’’ Porter said following that race, who had lost as the beaten favorite in his two previous Delaware Handicap tries. “It’s fantastic.’’
Songbird retires with a career record of 15-13-2-0, $4,692,000 in earnings, and a legion of fans the world over who will forever hold her in their hearts.
From everyone at racingdudes.com, we wish the champ a fond farewell and a happy retirement.
— Racing Dudes (@racing_dudes) August 31, 2017
Happy retirement SONGBIRD! She’ll always be one of my favorite fillies… pic.twitter.com/7eBPcARGyw
— Saratoga Slim (@SaratogaSlim) August 31, 2017
Happy retirement to Songbird, my first love in horse racing. She showed me what beauty and dominance look like. I’ll never forget you ❤ pic.twitter.com/tk6jd14U1N
— Curtis Kalleward (@curtiskalleward) August 31, 2017