04/17/2016 9:17PM

Fever knocks Songbird out of Kentucky Oaks

Barbara D. Livingston
Songbird developed a fever following the Santa Anita Oaks and has been unable to train.

A fever will prevent the champion Songbird from starting in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Songbird was diagnosed with a fever in the days after her win in the $400,345 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9. Her condition did not improve over the weekend, owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said on Sunday evening.

Porter announced Songbird’s defection via his Facebook page on Sunday evening, writing, “We have to report that Songbird will miss the Kentucky Oaks. She developed a low grade fever after the [Santa Anita] Oaks and has not been able to go to the track.

“With the fever not resolved, she was started on a course of antibiotics today, and as a result it’ll be another seven-10 days before she’s able to return to the track.

“We are sorry to have to miss the Oaks but what’s most important is to get Songbird well.”

The champion 2-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird would have been a heavy favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. She is unbeaten in seven starts.

“Like most of the things that happen, we try to catch it right away,” Hollendorfer said in a phone interview. “She just showed up with a temperature one morning. It never got to be a huge temperature, just a low grade one. We think she’ll be fine. She can’t train right now.”

Hollendorfer said he will not make race plans for Songbird until she is fully recovered.

“Our point race was the Oaks and we’re not going to make that race,” he said. “Once we get back to training, we’ll pick another program for her. There are plenty of races to run.

“What matters the most is taking care of Songbird. Things didn’t go perfect and we still have a great future with Songbird.

“We won’t take any chances and we’ll be conservative with her.”

Songbird has yet to be tested in her career, winning seven races by a combined 36 lengths. In several of those races, jockey Mike Smith has not urged her in the final furlong.

Songbird has won three races this year – the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes in February, the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes in March, and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Last summer and fall, Songbird won three consecutive Grade 1 races – the Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

By Medaglia d’Oro, Songbird has earned $1,982,000 for Porter, who bought her for $400,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.

-additional reporting by Nicole Russo


Sharon Rose More than 1 year ago
I hope she had a happy birthday.
Thomas McDonough More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't be surprised if Rick Porter was giving Churchill a big F.U. for what he had to endure with Normandy Invasion a couple of years ago.
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
Definitely more to this story.....Just as their is with Runhappy......I wish both great champions the best
Joey Dekarski More than 1 year ago
Nice to see the animal put first ,she s a wonderful filly who will leave a far bigger legacy then just an oaks win,now this urs oaks is gonna be fun to watch .Theres some really nice fillys in there.

Glenn Morrison More than 1 year ago
Mr. Rick Porter much respect for you in doing what's right by the horse. She's the best filly or male of this year and the Breeders Cup is in her back yard this year at Santa Anita. Thanks for making the right decision and showing your love for SongBird.  Kudosssssss!!
Amanda Lea More than 1 year ago
So much for the big showdown...really disappointing. 
alex More than 1 year ago
What big showdown?  There is no other "freak " entered in the KY Oaks  that was going face her
Joey Dekarski More than 1 year ago
Totally right ,shes beating the best of anything running in the oaks ,she is another Racheal Alexander coulkd be even better shes a badasss
mike More than 1 year ago
At least connections are looking at the larger picture-living to fight another day. The horse should come first.........period.
TroyKelm1 More than 1 year ago
To bad about SONGBIRD. But better safe and heal than race and harm. She will be back stronger than ever. Still worth betting when she comes back.
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago

I hope Songbird gets well.  She's done everything asked of her.  People must remember that horses are athletes.  If she were a pro boxer and lost 10-11 days of training (for "whatever" reason) before a fight that was less than 3 weeks away, that fight would be postponed as well. 

I did notice that they used her last race as a free space in the Santa Anita Pick 6 sequence.  It gave everyone a decent chance to spend $32 - $64 dollars to hit a Pick 6 that paid a little over $500.00.

I am still kicking myself in the butt for not noticing this until it was too late.

Best regards to Porter (who has every reason to protect his horses, like "E.B.") and to Hollendorfer  for having the fortitude to give her time to "fill out."  She's still a "young" 3 year old and we'll see much more from her in the future... if we all remain patient.

Speaking of "Future" bets, this is the silliest bet ever invented.  Unless you're Doug O'Neill, you have no reason to risk ANY MONEY to play these inventions for emotional people.  Too much can go wrong over time (and everyone that knows "anything" about horse racing knows this).

Jimmy Depalo More than 1 year ago
When I got a fever, I miss 1 day of work get better and go back to work.

A QB gets a fever on a thursday will most likely be playing on Sunday...

Seriously- The Derby is 19 days away- the antibiotics will be done 10 days before the race.  I think its a premature move- Hopefully she runs in the Preakness but I think the connections will bypass that and probably retire here before she ever runs again.........
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
you're not a horse .as far as i can tell. and you don't get tested for prohibited substances.so if you take meds and go to work nobody cares. Also you don't have to be in top shape to run a 1 1/8 mile race at 40 miles and hour. so its safe to say you don't need to gallop 2 or 3 miles daily to stay fit. and run full out 1/2 mile every week or so to open up your lungs . a quarter back might run full out for a few seconds the total ground he covers over hours of play is measured in yards not miles. And he gets a ton of breaks. soccer players for example are expected to run about 8 miles during a match. They too are out for a week at least after fevers. a race horse needs to continually train up to race then fly to the racetrack or van.then on race day walk a couple of miles to the paddock from the stable then walk over to the track with 120 pounds on his/her back go for a long canter to the starting gate then run his/her heart out for 1 1/8 miles while feeling the whip if he/she is not going fast enough. so to expect them to go out there at any less than perfect health and fitness is criminal. don't compare your job to theirs besides you have a choice to call in sick they don't . 
BarenholtzFurn More than 1 year ago
She unfortunately will test positive for a prohibited substance used during her recovery in the Test Barn after the Race. No option.
Joey Dekarski More than 1 year ago
they thought the fever would pass ,it didn t so theres no sighn of whats going on with her so now there hopeing the steriods and antibotics work it could get far worse for her then better so I totally get the move ,not to mention what ever one else is saying about having the meds in her blood,shes worth far more running perfect then running at 75 percent for one meaningless race , shes the real deal and could run in some big races in her future.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Why don't the people on these boards just shut up and let the horsemen do their job? If you are so clever about training race horses, go give it a try. See how many millionaires YOU can convince to trust you with their expensive racing stock.
It is NOT a "seriously premature move" : you don't know diddly
mike More than 1 year ago
Hey Gaye,agree with you for sure. Alot of dumb "armchair quarterbacks".
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
SONGBIRD will recover from this and come back as well as ever. its a set back but it will pass.. its a reminder to all that horses like people can and do get sick and sore etc..she's still the champ.as for the futures bettors its a reminder that the odds advantage you might get early comes with some risk. the odds advantage is mitigated by the possibility even if remote that this might happen. if she made it to the gate 2/1 or 9/5 would have been a gift as would all the exactas with her in the futures pool. she would have been 1/5 or less on the day. a few years back i loved SHARED BELIEEF (same trainer as SONGBIRD ) in the early pool of the derby futures and put a nice bet in at over 20/1 on the horse also used him in the exactas. that year i was convinced he and CALIORNIA CHROME were the 2 best 3yos and one would prevail in the derby. As everybody knows SHARED BELIEEF bruised a foot and never made it .then went on to prove that he indeed was a force to be reckoned with. now some will say he would not have beaten CHROME but the point is what happened to him could have happened to chrome. So luck plays a part in these things.