10/31/2015 11:46AM

Songbird dominates Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

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Kim Pratt
Songbird (right) and jockey Mike Smith head into the stretch as they go on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies by 5 3/4 lengths Saturday.

Songbird turned a confrontation into a coronation, romping by 5 3/4 lengths over Rachel's Valentina in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Saturday at Keeneland to certainly clinch – with emphasis – the Eclipse Award divisional championship.

Songbird, based in California with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, has won all four of her starts by a combined 22 lengths. She rolled into the Juvenile Fillies off Grade 1 victories in the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier Stakes. Remarkably, her 4 1/2-length margin of victory in the Chandelier is her closest call to date.

The filly gave Mike Smith, who has been aboard for each of her outings, his 22nd Breeders’ Cup victory, extending his margin atop the event’s jockey leaderboard. But according to the Hall of Fame rider, he didn’t have to do much this time around.

"I just wanted to break well and hang on,” Smith said. “She's so talented."

Songbird ($3.20), the heavy favorite in the field of 10, was away in good order from the far-outside post, enabling Smith to cut across the field and assume command while saving ground around the first turn. The filly ticked off fractions of 23.60 seconds and 47.15 while shadowed by second choice Rachel's Valentina – who had broken from post 9 – about a length behind. Those two would lead the field all the way around the Keeneland oval.

"From the 10, we knew we had to get a good break," said owner Rick Porter, who races under the name Fox Hill Farm. "She jumped out. Mike says she always jumps out [well] in her first three starts, and he said this is the longest she's ever jumped. She was able to get a good position and slowed 'em down pretty good."

Songbird began to widen her lead around the turn though six furlongs in 1:11.42 without being asked by Smith and continued to smoothly pull away once straightened away into the lane, stopping the clock in 1:42.73 for the 1 1/16 miles.

This was just the second victory in a Breeders' Cup race for Hall of Fame trainer Hollendorfer, whose previous triumph came with Dakota Phone in the 2010 Dirt Mile.

"He was more confident than I was," Porter, who has campaigned stars such as 2010 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and Grade 1 winner Hard Spun, said of Hollendorfer. "Jerry has done a great job. He told me he wanted to run in this Grade 1 [the Del Mar Debutante] after her maiden, and I said, 'Jerry, I don't usually do that.' He said, 'You've got the best horse on the backside.' "

Rachel's Valentina, the only daughter of the immensely popular Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, suffered her first defeat after coming into the Juvenile Fillies off a victory in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.

“She ran super,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Songbird got an uncontested lead and was too tough.”

After Rachel's Valentina, it was 1 1/4 lengths back to Dothraki Queen in third. Rounding out the order of finish were Nickname, Ma Can Do It, Tap to It, Land Over Sea, Forever Darling, Right There, and Bold Quality.
 

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