02/06/2016 7:56PM

Songbird impresses in Las Virgenes romp

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Emily Shields
Despite an impressive performance in the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes, owner Rick Porter has no desire to enter Songbird in any Kentucky Derby prep races.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Songbird was as brilliant in Saturday’s $300,345 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita as she was in any of her four wins that led to her title of outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2015.

Songbird won the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths, a margin that was virtually meaningless when jockey Mike Smith eased her down in the final furlong. Songbird has had morning gallops more strenuous than the way she ran in the last eighth of the one mile Las Virgenes.

“I was so pleased to see that,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Songbird ($2.10) was timed in 1:36.84. The Las Virgenes was her first start since a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

After the race, owner Rick Porter emphasized that he has no desire to run Songbird against males this spring, ruling out a start in the Kentucky Derby or any of the leading preps in advance of that race.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Porter said. “It would be nice to win the Kentucky Derby. I’d like to do it with a 3-year-old colt, if I can get one.”

Porter said he is not in favor of the current points structure for the Kentucky Derby that requires starts in prep races against males in the months leading to the race.

“I’d have to run against the boys in the Santa Anita Derby,” he said. “She’s too young. It’s 20 horses in the race.”

Saturday, Smith had Songbird in front a few strides away from the gate. Songbird led by two lengths after a quarter-mile in 23.63 seconds, and by 2 1/2 lengths after a half-mile in 47.01 seconds. The margin was six lengths with a quarter mile remaining. By then, the race was essentially decided.

Porter said he was left amazed by the performance, and the ability Songbird has shown.

“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “It gives you goosebumps. You wonder, ‘How did I get this horse?’”

Land Over Sea, who was seventh in the BC Juvenile Fillies last October, finished second, 3 3/4 lengths in front of She’s a Warrior, a maiden. Land Over Sea has lost her last four starts to Songbird, including a third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, and a second in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes here last September.

Merirosvo was fourth, followed by Jade Princess and Street Fancy.

Street Fancy won the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos in December. She appeared to strike her head on the starting gate a few moments before the start of Saturday’s race. Jockey Victor Espinoza eased Street Fancy in the final furlong.

Songbird was the subject of massive show bets, drawing $619,067 of the $682,046 bet to show. As a result, there was a minus show pool of $114,290. There was a minus place pool of $12,404.

Songbird, by Medgalia d’Oro, has earned $1,582,000. Hollendorfer said the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9 is the next major goal.