11/20/2017 5:14PM

Songbird has breeding date with Arrogate

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Barbara D. Livingston
Songbird won 13 of her 15 career starts.

Champion Songbird, purchased for a near-record $9.5 million by Mandy Pope two weeks ago, will be bred to champion Arrogate in 2018 for her first foal.

The booking is a major coup for Arrogate, who is preparing to stand his debut season at Juddmonte Farm for an advertised fee of $75,000, the highest for an incoming stallion in Kentucky. Juddmonte has purchased mares with an eye toward breeding them to its champion - including multiple Grade 1 winner Paulassilverlining, who raced in the operation's colors this season. Outside bookings to the stallion already include Samantha Siegel's Grade 1 winner By the Moon.

Songbird, whose mating plans were first reported by Thoroughbred Daily News, earned Eclipse Awards as champion 2-year-old filly of 2015 and 3-year-old filly of 2016. She is the sixth filly in modern Eclipse Award history to be honored as champion at both 2 and 3, joining Ruffian, Open Mind, Go For Wand, Silverbulletday, and Beholder.

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Songbird won 13 of 15 career starts, and her two runner-up efforts came to stellar foes – to four-time Eclipse champion Beholder in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and to subsequent Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes.

Pope purchased Songbird for $9.5 million two weeks ago at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. The Medaglia d'Oro filly, retired in late August due to suspensory damage and a bone chip, was being offered as a broodmare prospect, as former owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm does not maintain a broodmare band and regularly sells his top fillies and mares.

Songbird's price ranked her second among broodmare prospects sold at public auction who have never carried a foal, including horses in training offered as racing or broodmare prospects – and Porter and Pope are quite familiar with that leaderboard. The record-holder is another former Fox Hill colorbearer: 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, whom Pope purchased for $10 million at the 2012 edition of the Fasig-Tipton November sale. Pope boards her broodmare band and foals at Wayne and Cathy Sweezey's Timber Town Farm outside of Lexington.

"Havre de Grace wanted somebody who cost about what she did. She was feeling a little lonely there," Pope joked the night of the sale.

Pope has made sales headlines in recent years with a number of high-quality purchases to build her broodmare band, also landing champion Groupie Doll ($3.1 million, 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale), Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty ($4.2 million, 2012 Keeneland November), and Group 3-placed Betterbetterbetter ($5.2 million, 2013 Fasig November). Pope's business strategy has been to sell some foals out of the mares, particularly male offspring, to help recoup her investments, while retaining fillies to eventually join her broodmare band. Songbird's foal will likely join this pattern.

In addition to her outstanding race record, hopes are high for Songbird as a broodmare because of her genetics. Bred by John Antonelli, the filly is out of the Grade 2-winning West Acre mare Ivanavinalot. The mare's foals also include Wide Range, dam of Grade 3 winner Mico Margarita. As a broodmare sire, Medaglia d'Oro is represented by Grade 1 winners Rachel's Valentina and Rock Fall. Songbird is bred on the same Medaglia d'Oro over Forty Niner-line cross as Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, the dam of Rachel's Valentina.

"What an awesome racemare," Pope said. "She's awesome-looking. She's by Medaglia d'Oro, who I think is one of the best sires, particularly with fillies, as she proved. I think there are the genetics there to go on and make a good mama. Fingers crossed, lots of prayers are needed."