01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Songbird


The filly Songbird was one cool customer.

“Nothing bothered her,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer recalled. “She was a very smart filly. Whatever happened out on the racetrack, if a horse got loose or something, none of that bothered her.”

In addition to her smarts, Songbird had personality and looks.

“She had a very happy demeanor about her,” Hollendorfer said, and a physique he described as “big and strong.”

Songbird, a 4-year-old in 2017, had attributes that made her one of the most well-liked horses in the stable.

“She was a barn favorite, very easy to work with,” Hollendorfer said.

Those traits – calm, intelligent, imposing, and likeable – were overshadowed only by her raw ability. Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and Ivanavinalot left an indelible mark before she was retired.

Bred by John Antonelli and bought by Porter for $400,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, Songbird won 13 races with 2 seconds from 15 starts, including nine Grade 1 victories. She won two Eclipse Awards – outstanding 2-year-old filly in 2015 and outstanding 3-year-old filly in 2016. Songbird’s career earnings of $4,692,000 are the most by any Medaglia d’Oro-sired runner. Mike Smith rode Songbird in all 15 starts.

In 2017, Songbird raced just three times, all in Grade 1 races. She won twice and finished second by a nose in the final start of her career. Although her campaign was abbreviated, she accomplished enough to be named a finalist for outstanding older dirt female.

The bar was set high for Songbird, whose 2017 debut was postponed until June after she kicked the wall of her stall early in the season. Her first workout of the year was not until April. Though she was based in California, Songbird went on the road for all three starts.

Her first stop was Belmont Park for the Ogden Phipps on June 10. It was Songbird’s first start since the first loss of her career, to Beholder in the memorable 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. Songbird was odds-on in the Phipps, which she won by a length.

One month later, Songbird was 1-20 in the Delaware Handicap while stretching to 1 1/4 miles. She won again, by a length. It was not her most impressive victory, just her 13th from 14 starts. It turns out, the Delaware Handicap also was her final win.

Songbird went to Saratoga next for the Personal Ensign on Aug. 26. She was favored at odds-on, but Forever Unbridled rallied on the far outside, perhaps out of Songbird’s line of sight, and defeated Songbird by a neck.

Soon thereafter, Porter announced Songbird’s retirement. She was sold to Mandy Pope for $9.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. Songbird is scheduled to be bred to Arrogate this spring.