04/09/2016 7:00PM

After slightly slow start, Songbird sails in Oaks


ARCADIA, Calif. - A sealed and sloppy track did not deter Songbird in Saturday's $400,345 Santa Anita Oaks.

The undefeated champion 2-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird made her first start on an off track in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-olds fillies and ran a race similar to her previous six wins on fast tracks – she won easily and without urging in the final furlong from jockey Mike Smith.

Songbird, who races for Rick Porter, will make her next start in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs on May 6, where she figures to be a short-priced favorite in the prestigious race.

Smith said Songbird needed a few furlongs to gain her footing in the Santa Anita Oaks, but eventually handled the going without difficulty.

"She's gotten so professional and good at everything," Smith said. "She spun her wheels into the first turn, but when she found her rhythm she was comfortable. Once she got forward, she was fine."

Songbird ($2.20) was timed in 1:44.14 for 1 1/16 miles. She led by 1 1/2 lengths over 25-1 Forever Darling through early fractions of 23.34 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.17 seconds for a half-mile.

The trailing pack of five fillies were never closer. Songbird led by four lengths on the turn and by six lengths with a furlong remaining when Smith stopped urging his mount. The final margin was 3 3/4 lengths over 14-1 Mokat, who closed from fifth of six.

Songbird is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who has repeatedly spoken in admiration of the filly since her career began last summer. During the Santa Anita Oaks, Hollendorfer was closely observing how Songbird handled the off going.

"I was watching her stride and she was striding the best of everyone," Hollendorfer said.

She's a Warrior, a maiden, finished third in the Santa Anita Oaks, followed by Forever Darling, Bellamentary, and Kay Kay. Jade Princess was scratched earlier on Saturday.

Songbird, by Medagalia d'Oro, has won six stakes in her career, including four Grade 1 races. She won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland last October to clinch her championship.

Songbird has earned $1,982,000 in her career. She has won three races this year, including the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile on Feb. 6 and the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 5.