2017 Pacific Classic Arrogate Songbird

Arrogate Prepares For 2017 Pacific Classic

The combination of Arrogate’s brutal fourt place finish in the San Diego Handicap, along with Gun Runner’s recent win in The Whitney, has many people wondering just who the best racehorse in the country actually is. It’s a typical debate between talent and production. To regain his footing in the discussion, Arrogate needs a top performance in the 2017 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate went back to work with his typical team in order to prepare for a race that should boast a very competitive field. Official splits for his recent drills included fractions of :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :48 2/5, 1:00 3/5, and 1:12 3/5. He was timed on the gallop out in 1:38 1/5. Everything seems to be pointed in the right direction.

“It was a serious work,” commented trainer Bob Baffert. “He didn’t need much encouragement. He’s showing no signs . He’s moving forward. I’ve seen a big difference in him since that last race. He’s back to his old self again.” This is good news for the horse that will undoubtedly enter the 2017 Pacific Classic as the favorite.

Jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Arrogate for the brunt of his competitive career, also said that Arrogate, “Looked good. He galloped out strong.”

The field for the 2017 Pacific Classic is expected to include Accelerate, who handed Arrogate his first defeat in the 2017 San Diego Handicap. Collected and Curlin Road are also expected to fill the gates.

But the most anticipated rival to Arrogate will be Songbird, who has picked up two wins this year in the 2017 Ogden Phipps and the 2017 Delaware Handicap. This would be the second time in two years that the Pacific Classic featured a battle between the top male and female dirt runners in the world. Last year, California Chrome made short work of Beholder.

A month ago, this wouldn’t have even been up for debate. Songbird is an astounding talent, but Arrogate feels like he comes from another planet. However, there is a dent in that undefeated armor now and Arrogate’s strongest rivals will feel like there’s a chance to overtake the 2016 Horse of the Year. To be fair, Songbird didn’t look untoucachable in the Delaware as she barely outlasted Martini Glass for the win.

The 2017 Pacific Classic will run on Saturday, August 19th out of Del Mar Racetrack, the same venue as the 2017 Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have more coverage in the next two weeks on the big race.

2017 Delaware Handicap preview

Songbird Preps for 2017 Delaware Handicap

The 2017 Delaware Handicap isn’t pretending to be much of a competition. After all, Songbird is coming in a heavy 1/5 favorite so the oddsmakers and handicappers are calling this is a done deal. Such is life when a competitor is as proven as Songbird, who remains 12-1-0 in 13 starts.

Most of us won’t be interested in what Songbird does until she goes toe-to-toe with the best female runners in the world in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she placed second to Beholder by a nose in arguably the most exhilarating finish from last season. She has since rebounded by decimating a field at the 2017 Ogden Phipps that included noted challengers like Paid Up Subscriber.

The Fox Hill Farms superstar won’t face a significantly threatening batch of rivals in the 2017 Delaware Handicap either. Weep No More is a distant second choice at 6/1, considering that Songbird is 1/5, and is coming off a harrowing sixth place finish in the Fleur de Lis Stakes. It’s not far off her regular results. Weep No More also finished fifth in the Matron Stakes.

There’s potential for a big upset, and if you’re looking for that play than look no further than Martini Stakes. Obviously this is a stretch. Songbird is a no-brainer, but Martini Stakes is coming off a second place finish int he Obeah Stakes and is a home grown product with experience on this track. The only time Songbird has ventured away from California to compete is when she crushed the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Miss Mo Kelly, Line Of Best Fit and Home In round out the 2017 Delaware Handicap as longshots.

This one’s a wrap, folks. But are you really going to miss a chance to see the best female racehorse in the world? I didn’t think so. Anytime you get to see Songbird, it’s a damn treat.

2017 Delaware Handicap – Saturday, July 15th at Delaware Park
1 1/4 Miles – 3+ Year Old Fillies – $750,000

1 Miss Mo Kelly Kellyn Gorder Carol Cedeno 111 15-1
2 Martini Glass Keith Nations Jose Ferrer 115 8-1
3 Weep No More George Arnold II Joel Rosario 111 6-1
4 Line of Best Fit Keiron Magee TBA 112 12-1
5 Songbird Jerry Hollendorfer Mike Smith 124 1/5
6 Hone In Victoria Oliver Tyler Gaffalione 111 15-1
2016 eclispe award nominees

2016 Eclipse Award Nominees Announced

The 2016 Eclipse Award nominees were announced on January 5th, and leading the way are California Chrome, Arrogate and Songbird who each earned nods for Horse of the Year.

Each of those oustanding performers also find themselves in the appropriate age/gender categories as well. California Chrome is one of the 2016 Eclipse Award nominees for Older Horse of the Year along with Frosted and Lord Nelson. It’s virtually impossible for either of those to build a case for outclassing California Chrome in this category.

Arrogate, who capped the season with an awesome Breeders’ Cup Classic victory, will contend with Exaggerator and Nyquist for the award given to the best amongst three-year-old colts. The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner and the 2016 Preakness Stakes winner have both since retired, while Arrogate is poised to have an incredible four-year-old campaign. Arrogate did not compete in the Triple Crown series, or any of the prep races, as a late bloomer who emerged out of nowhere at the Travers Stakes in August.

Songbird is in the three-year-old fillies category along side Cathryn Sophia and Queen’s Trust and the previously undefeated champion is more likely to win here than as the Horse of the Year. Had she fended Beholder at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, there might be a genuine argument for her taking top honours.

A full list of the 2016 Eclipse Award nominees can be found below. The awards ceremony will be held on January 21st at Gulfstream Park.

Horse of the Year Finalists: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird
Two-Year-Old Male: Classic Empire, Not This Time  , Practical Joke
Two-Year-Old Filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey
Three-Year-Old Male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist  
Three-Year-Old Filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird
Older Dirt Male: California Chrome, Frosted  , Lord Nelson
Older Dirt Female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind
Male Sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson
Female Sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining
Male Turf Horse: Flintshire (GB), Highland Reel, Tourist  
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin
Steeplechase Horse: Rawnaq (IRE), Scorpiancer (IRE), Top Striker
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm
Breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm
Trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Apprentice Jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio

Songbird Work Moved Up

With rain in the forecast in California a number of training runs for Breeders’ Cup participants were moved up, including the one for undefeated champion Songbird. The two-year old filly recorded a final five-furlong breeze for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) on the morning of October 27 at Santa Anita Park in a time of 1:01. songbird-1

“She’s training up to the race well and that should be her final work,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who watched the workout from the Santa Anita grandstand. “It was a nice, easy work and she galloped out nicely, too.”

The plan now is for Songbird to walk on October 28 and follow that up with a jog the following day. She will then gallop into the race on November 4. “I couldn’t ask for her to be training any better than she is right now,” said the Hall of Fame trainer.

Songbird wasn’t the only notable name that worked out on October 27. Also in attendance during the 6:30 AM PST training session were Melatonin, who was preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Lady Shipman, who was training for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and Land Over Sea, who was training for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Melatonin was recorded running five furlongs in a time of :59 2/5, Lady Shipman ran a half-mile in a time of :48 3/5, and Land Over Sea finished a seven-furlong run in a time of 1:28 3/5.

Songbird Cotillion odds 2016

Trainer Speaks On Songbird’s Cotillion Odds

This hasn’t been an easy year for Songbird. The top choice in the Cotillion odds for this weekend’s challenge at Parx Racing is facing a 1/2 mark which is sure to inflate even farther away by the time the gates crack open on Saturday. But trainer Jerry Hollendorfer knows what everyone else does – Songbird deserves the recognition.

Beginning the year as the three-year old filly to beat, Songbird got off to an incredible start and was the hopeful anchor for the Triple Tiara. An untimely fever, however, knocked her out of contention for the entire spring. “It was great to see her come back from that,” Hollendorfer said of the Cotillion odds favorite, who came back in the summer to win the Summertime Oaks in June. “Once she continued to have the fever for a few days, myself and Mr. Porter realized we were probably going to miss the Kentucky Oaks.”

Rick Porter is the president of Fox Hill Farms, the group that owns Songbird, and he’s been involved in the direction of his prized filly. “He just told me to take my time and get her over it; get her 100%,” the trainer continued. “We had some of the best vets looking over her and making decisions. So we gave her all the time she needed to come back 100% and it seems like we made the right decisions because she came back and ran very well.”

Songbird’s fiercest competition this weekend is Cathryn Sophia, another champion who is 6-0-2 in eight starts and has never faced her before. Hollendorfer continues to be confident despite Cathryn Sophia receiving 5/2 Cotillion odds this weekend because of the preparation his own contender has been experiencing. “She’s been ultra-consistent through the entire time I’ve been training her, which started well before her first start,” Hollendorfer said. “She was well thought of from when she was sent to me and has never done anything to make us think otherwise.”

To call Songbird a special horse is an understatement. She’s captivating. Mesmerizing. A must-see event every time she starts. “These kind of horses are few and far between. We’re very glad to have her. Right now we’re real happy with Songbird and hopefully we can continue winning with her.”

The Cotillion odds are listed below. The race is scheduled for a 4:55 post time at Parx Racing.

Cotillion Stakes – Saturday, September 24th at Parx (4:55pm EST)
1 1/16th Miles — 3 Year Old Fillies — $1,000,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Carina Mia (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 124 William I. Mott 5/1
2 Cathryn Sophia (MD) Javier Castellano 124 John C. Servis 5/2
3 Disco Rose (PA) Edwin Rivera 117 Robert E. Reid, Jr. 20/1
4 Land Over Sea (KY) Mario Gutierrez 122 Doug F. O’Neill 10/1
5 Songbird (KY) Mike E. Smith 124 Jerry Hollendorfer 1/2
6 Queena Esther (FL) Carol Cedeno 117 Juan C. Vazquez 30/1
Cathryn Sophia 2016 Princess of Sylmar

Cathryn Sophia Back To Winning At Parx

Three-year old filly Cathryn Sophia stormed the Princess of Sylmar Stakes on Saturday to earn her second victory at Parx Racing, and her sixth overall. It wasn’t even a contest as the John Servis trainee took care of the work. Jockey Paco Lopez was just along for the ride as the daughter of Street Boss won by a convincing 6 1/2 lengths.

The 2016 Princess of Sylmar wasn’t expected to be much of a contest. Cathryn Sophia was the 1/9 favorite, and waited patiently to break after Eighth Wonder and Disco Rose helped set a slogging pace on a fast track. The group hit fractions of :24.38, :48.05 and 1:12.56 before the landslide favorite decided to pick up the speed and overtake her rivals down the homestretch.

With the victory, Cathryn Sophia was worth $2.20, $2.10, and $2.10. Disco Rose brought $6.20 and $3.00 while Linda Mimi paid out $2.40 in show. Queen Esther was fourth, followed by a fading Eighth Wonder who outlasted Tenggara in last.

Now with a record of 6-0-2 in eight starts, Cathryn Sophia has turned in to quite the profit generator for owner Cash is King. With over $1.1 million in earnings, the three-year old has more than justified herself as a worthy stakes runner finishing no less than third in any of her starts. She has previously lost to fellow contender Carina Mia at the Acorn, while getting caught by longshot Weep No More at the Ashland where she finished just behind Rachel’s Valentina.

Now, however, everything seems to be back on track and the tune-up represented by the Princess of Sylmar has served its purpose.

Next up for Cathryn Sophia is the Cotillion, a 1 1/16th mile drag race against Songbird who has reasserted herself as the three-year old filly to beat. The long term plan for her seems to be the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, but a lot will depend on how she fares against the undefeated queen of her age class on September 24th.

Alabama Stakes Preview

Songbird Tries to Remain Unbeaten in Alabama Stakes

Six challengers will take a shot at undefeated champion filly Songbird Saturday at Saratoga in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes. The Grade I race will be the first time Songbird has attempted the 1 ¼ mile distance, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer believes she’s ready for the added distance.

“She’s trained well on every racetrack— Keeneland, Santa Anita, and Del Mar —she just trains well on any surface, Hollendorfer said. “Based on appearances and looking at her record on paper you’d have to think that she wouldn’t have any trouble getting a mile-and-a-quarter,” he said. “I firmly believe that if we had decided to run in the Delaware Handicap on the 15th (of July) instead of coming here and running in the Coaching Club American Oaks, we were fully prepared to go a mile and a quarter. I feel like an extra eighth of a mile should be right up her alley.”

Some analysts will disagree. Songbird has won all nine of her races, including eight graded stakes. But in her most recent win, she ran the final furlong of the Coaching Club American Oaks in a slow :13.54 seconds, and there can be a significant difference between winning at nine furlongs and winning at ten.

Songbird will break from post position 6. But a strong challenge at this distance is expected, and Pioneer of the Nile filly Dark Nile has won four straight following a troubled trip in her debut. She’s worth a play in the exotics at 20-1, and has handled two turns. Her trainer Arnaud Delacour believes she’ll step up again breaking from the rail.

“It’s a bit of an audacious spot, but she’s come along nicely and I’ve always thought she would stay a mile and a quarter,” said Delacour.

Going for Broke makes her stakes debut for Chad Brown. The Blame filly was a maiden winner second time out, and has since captured two allowance races.

“She’s a nice filly who has run through her conditions,” said Brown. “We thought if we were going to get her to the Alabama we would avoid the Coaching Club, which looked difficult, and take one clean shot at a Grade 1. I think the filly will stay a mile and a quarter, but obviously for Songbird to lose something would have to really go wrong. Just to be in the race and have a chance for a piece of it is worth it for us.”

Going for Broke drew post 3 with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr.

Freshened since running fourth in the Acorn, dual Grade 2 winner Go Maggie Go returns for Dale Romans. “Obviously it’s going to be a salty race,” said Romans, whose Keen Ice upset American Pharoah in last year’s Travers. “It’s hard to run at the level we should and still stay away from Songbird.”

Go Maggie Go drew post 4 with Luis Saez.

Beginning from post 5 is Family Tree, who won the Iowa Oaks June 30 and the Indiana Oaks 16 days later.

“I stepped up to the plate and took a chance, everybody is like, ‘Sometimes you’ve got to do it,’” said trainer Wayne Catalano.

Flora Dora and Weep No More, third and fifth in the Oaks, try Songbird again.

Flora Dora breaks from the outside with blinkers on and Manny Esquivel aboard.

“She’s been a bit more focused,” noted trainer Marialice Coffey. “We’re excited about her coming into this race.”

Weep No More, searching to recapture the form that won her the Grade 1 Ashland, breaks from post 2 and switches back to Corey Lanerie. Trainer Rusty Arnold feels the daughter of Mineshaft is a “true mile and a quarter horse.”

We’ll find out Saturday if Songbird is a mile and a quarter horse as well.

Alabama Stakes – Saratoga Race Course, August 20, 2017.

Race #10, Post time 6:18 pm PT

  1. Dark Nile           20-1    Joe Bravo
  2. Weep No More 15-1    Corey Laner
  3. Going For Broke 10-1    Irad Ortiz, Jr.
  4. Go Maggie Go 8-1     Luis Saez
  5. Family Tree 10-1    Florent Geroux
  6. Songbird 1-5     Mike Smith
  7. Flora Dora 20-1    Emannuel Esquivel


Coaching Club American Oaks preview

Coaching Club American Oaks Preview

One of the many highlights of this weekend will be Songbird running in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. The undefeated, three-year old champion will go for her ninth victory against a tiny field of just five total horses. It should be business as usual for one of the most untouchable horses in the 2016 campaign but there is at least one, legitimate threat.

Songbird has been training at Santa Anita for the past few months since dominating the Summertime Oaks in her return from a low grade fever that took her out of the Triple Tiara Races. In her absence, the spotlight was seized by three other winners. Cathryn Sophia seized the Kentucky Oaks, while Go Maggie Go upset the field at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Carina Mia won the Acorn hosted by Belmont Park, and she will also feature in the Coaching Club American Oaks in a bid to hand Songbird her first loss.

That’s an uphill climb as there is in the sport, but Carina Mia seems up to task. Her connections have long intended to point her towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race also targeted by those in charge of Songbird. So the Coaching Club American Oaks is a good a time as any to see whether or not its worth gunning for that particular race, or pivoting in another direction.

Weep No More is always a worthy choice in the books despite her up-and-down career. The speedster is clearly capable of immense pace after catching both Rachel’s Valentina, Cathryn Sophia and Carina Mia at the Ashland in what can only be described as a massive upset. She has since only run the Kentucky Oaks, where she fell to a disappointing 7th.

More d’Amour is also a member of the Coaching Club American Oaks field after a 4th place run at the Mother Goose. Flora Dora rounds out the field after finishing 7th at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and 2nd at a Belmont allowance. She’s probably not worth consideration at the Coaching Club American Oaks in full honesty.

Though this is a five-horse race, it truly seems like Weep No More and Carina Mia are running for second place. While she was battling her fever, Songbird was likely more than happy to let other contenders shine in her place. Now that she’s back at center stage, however, the spotlight is hers.

The 2016 Coaching Club American Oaks runs this Sunday, July 24th out of Saratoga at 6:18pm EST. It is a 1 1/8th mile contest with a sizeable $500,000 purse on the line.

Record Purses Offered at Saratoga This Year

The 2016 Saratoga Race Course summer meet that is set to kick off on July 22nd is going to be one for the record books. The 40-day summer meet will feature 69 stakes and be worth a record $18.725 million in purses.

The highlights of the Saratoga Race Course 40-day summer meet are the August 6th $1.25 million Whitney (gr. I) and the August 27th $1.25 million Travers (gr. I). Saratoga

The first day of the meet features two graded stakes in the $150,000 Schuylerville (gr. III) and the $200,000 Lake George (gr. III) for three-year-old fillies. The first post time is scheduled for 1PM EST and gates will open at 11 AM.

Day two will be highlighted by the $150,000 Sanford (gr. III) for juveniles and the $500,000 Diana (gr. I) for mares and turf fillies. The first weekend will be capped off by the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), which draws champion Songbird.

“We are very fortunate to have Songbird running on opening weekend,” said New York Racing Association Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza. “The following weekend is the (grade II, $600,000) Jim Dandy, in which we are likely to see the Belmont (gr. I) winner, Creator, and the Preakness (gr. I) winner, Exaggerator. Looking beyond that, nearly every weekend there will be a champion or a star running, and that’s what Saratoga is all about.”

Once the July 22nd to July 25th opening weekend has concluded, the schedule will follow a Wednesday to Monday routine until it closes on Labor Day, September 5th.

Parx Racing Creates Stakes Race to Lure Cathryn Sophia

A $150,000 one-mile stakes for three-year-old fillies has been added to the Parx Racing schedule. It will take place on September 3rd and will be a prep race for Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Cathryn Sophia, as she readies herself for the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I). 

The Street Boss filly is trained by John Servis, who is pointing her towards the $1 million Cotillion on September 24. The newly created race has been named after Princess of Sylmar, who earned over $1.8 million in her career.

Also expected to enter the race is undefeated Songbird, who is currently preparing for the July 24 $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) that will be held at Saratoga Race Course.

Cathryn Sophia’s last start was the June 11 Acorn Stakes (gr. I), where she came in third place. The only previous race experience she has at Parx came in her maiden special weight debut last October. She won by 12 3/4 lengths.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Servis, speaking to Parx media officials. “It’s still a ways off and we hope all goes well up to that point, but it gives us a chance to get a race over the track before the Cotillion.”

The race created by Parx to entice Cathryn Sophia to run at their venue is expected to be a part of the September 3rd program at Parx dubbed “Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races”. It will feature five stakes exclusively for state-bred runners with purses of $100,000.