06/18/2016 9:04PM

Songbird returns to romp in Summertime Oaks

Barbara D. Livingston
The undefeated Songbird, with Mike Smith riding, wins the Summertime Oaks by 6 1/2 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Several minutes had passed after Songbird’s easy win in Saturday’s $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita when trainer Jerry Hollendorfer walked out of the winner’s circle.

The undefeated champion 2-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird ($2.10) won the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks by 6 1/2 lengths with no urging from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the final quarter-mile. Songbird has won eight races, and seven stakes. Her record leaves Hollendorfer amazed with what she has accomplished in the last 11 months.

“She’s a pretty cool filly, isn’t she?,” Hollendorfer asked a bystander.

There seems to be much more to achieve.

Songbird only enhanced her reputation by overwhelming four rivals in the Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. She stalked pacesetter Bellamentary for the first half-mile before taking the lead on the turn. The race was over quickly.

Songbird was timed in 1:42.63, a time Smith said was somewhat deceptive.

“She could run a lot faster than that,” Smith said. “Sometimes that’s all there is, but that’s not the case with her. I let her start galloping from the three-eighths to the wire.”

The win ended any doubt about Songbird’s condition in recent months. Songbird won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9 in a race designed as a prep for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6. Songbird missed that race after being diagnosed with a fever in mid-April. She resumed training in early May.

“You wonder if they’ll come back like they did before,” Hollendorfer said. “She showed in the morning she was doing great.”

Songbird broke from post 3 and led for a few strides before Bellamentary took the lead entering the first turn.

Bellamentary, a 7-1 shot, raced on the rail, with Songbird within a length to her outside. Bellamentary ran the opening quarter-mile in 22.97 seconds.

The two kept those positions on the backstretch while racing clear of Sutton’s Smile, who trailed by about three lengths. With a half-mile to go, Smith urged Songbird to the front and took a narrow lead after a half-mile in 45.95 seconds.

“The opportunity presented itself to sit off the horse,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to take her back any farther.”

Entering the turn, Songbird pulled clear. She led by about two lengths with a quarter-mile remaining and was not urged as the field entered the stretch. Typical of her recent races, Songbird was geared down for the final furlong.

 “It’s amazing, her cruising speed,” Smith said. “She started lengthening her stride on the backstretch.  I knew she was fine. I had to stay out of her way. She did it with ease.”

Bellamentary, who was fifth in the Santa Anita Oaks and won the Angels Flight Stakes for sprinters last month, held second, a nose in front of 31-1 Kay Kay. That’s a Lady was fourth, followed by Sutton’s Smile. Coppa and Not Now Carolyn were scratched.

Songbird has won eight starts by a combined 42 1/2 lengths and has earned $2,102,000.

Songbird has won seven stakes – four Grade 1 races, two Grade 2 races, and a Grade 3 race. Her Grade 1 wins are the Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year and the Santa Anita Oaks.

Hollendorfer, who turned 70 on Saturday, said Songbird will make her next start on the East Coast this summer, but did not specify a race.

“We’re very grateful to have a filly that can do the things she can,” he said. “Now that we have eight, we’ll look at number nine.”

Songbird was an overwhelming favorite in the show pool, attracting $1,017,594 of the $1,081,223 bet. There was a minus show pool of $201,400 and a minus place pool of $9,594. Songbird paid $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show.