01/25/2017 3:16PM

Songbird returns to Hollendorfer's barn in California

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Barbara D. Livingston
Songbird will slowly return to full training for her 2017 campaign.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Songbird, the two-time champion filly, returned to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s stable Monday from a winter break in Kentucky. The 4-year-old Songbird arrived a day earlier than expected, which was fine with the Hall of Fame trainer and his staff.

“She looks happy to be back, and we’re happy to have her back,” he said.

Songbird jogged at Santa Anita on Tuesday and Wednesday and will slowly return to full training in coming weeks for a 2017 campaign geared toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3 at Del Mar.

“We’re going to take it slow,” Hollendorfer said. “I’m not being pressured to make any certain race, and that’s well-appreciated.”

Owned by Rick Porter, Songbird was beaten for the first time in her career in her last start, a nose loss to Beholder in a thrilling running of the BC Distaff last November at Santa Anita. Beholder, who has since been retired, was the champion older female of 2016, her fourth championship.

Songbird was the champion 2-year-old filly of 2015 and champion 3-year-old filly of 2016. She has won 11 of 12 starts and earned $3,712,000.

Hollendorfer said Songbird’s 2017 season could be a mix of races in Southern California and at tracks on the East Coast.

“There are a lot of races we’d like to run in,” he said. “Mr. Porter has some races he wants to run in back east and we’ll try to accomplish that goal.”

Songbird led Hollendorfer’s 3-year-old division in 2016, and the trainer has two promising prospects for the age group this year – the filly Unique Bella and colt Battle of Midway.

Unique Bella won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs in her stakes debut Jan. 8 and will have her first start around two turns in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile Feb. 5.

Battle of Midway beat maidens in his debut in a seven-furlong race last Saturday, drawing off by 3 1/4 lengths on a wet-fast and sealed track. Porter owns Battle of Midway, who was purchased for $410,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.

Hollendorfer said Battle of Midway could start in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs Feb. 12.

“He’s one that took quite a while to get to the races,” Hollendorfer said. “Rick Porter was very patient with the way we handled that horse. He gave us a lot of latitude.

“We would look at the [San Vicente]. If we think it’s too much, we won’t do it.”