You can’t blame trainers, owners and jockeys for wanting to avoid Songbird, but it would probably be better for the sport overall if there were more highly regarded horses running in this wekeend’s Santa Anita Stakes. Instead we’re left with a small field of challengers vying for second place. The more talented fillies in the country are searching for glory elsewhere.
Songbird absolutely crushed the field at the San Ysabel Stakes, a 1 1/16th mile race from a month ago. Land Over Sea placed second in that race, finishing behind the Two-Year Old Filly of the Year for the fifth time in her career. In an effort to avoid Songbird, and the inevitable, Land Over Sea took to the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26th and earned her first graded stakes victory overall. It was a much deserved breath of fresh air for the talented daughter of sire Bellamy Road, who remains pointed firmly at the Kentucky Oaks for the ultimate shot at redemption.
Also making concerted efforts to avoid Songbird this weekend are Cathryn Sophia and Rachel’s Valentina, who will instead compete at this weekend’s Ashland Stakes in a much anticipated head-to-head battle. It will be the 2016 debut for Rachel’s Valentina, who hasn’t competed since placing second to you-know-who at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Cathryn Sophia has also done well to avoid Songbird throughout the balance of her career, and has managed to go 4-0 in as many races with wins at the Davano Dale, Forward Gal and Gin Talking along with her maiden. The pair will open as the presumed favorites at the Ashland Stakes.
That leaves a scattered and somewhat empty field to compete at the highly coveted Santa Anita Oaks. She’s A Warrior placed third at the previously mentioned San Ysabel, and is an excellent choice to place or show. However Mokat will also be in the field after showing at the Las Virgenes Stakes in February behind both Land Over Sea and Songbird.
Bellamentary, another filly sired by Bellamy Road, will make her stakes debut at the Santa Anita Oaks as well. She is trained by Phillip D’Amato. Forever Darling will round out the field after winning the Santa Ynez, but falling to ninth at the Rachel Alexandra.
Considering all of the contenders that have chose to avoid Songbird this weekend, the strongest plays to box with are She’s A Warrior and Mokat and if you’re looking to cash in large with a bigger play. Betting on the winner will require a heavy wager when it comes to the Santa Anita Oaks.