02/08/2016 5:27PM

The Week that Was in Racing, Feb. 1-7, 2016

Emily Shields
Songbird, with Mike Smith up, wins the Grade 2 Las Virgenes in a romp.

Here's a collection of some of the biggest stories in horse racing, all in one place. Unless noted, all of the links here are to free stories on DRF.com.

Graded stakes action across the country

Eight more graded stakes races this weekend, all contested at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. The most impressive performance, at least visually, was the 3-year-old debut of champion filly Songbird, who remained perfect in five starts after winning the Grade 2 Las Virgenes handily Saturday at Santa Anita. Her owner has been adamant that she will not face colts and geldings on the Derby trail, but it’s still okay to fall in love with her.

There were two Grade 1 stakes this week, and both were at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Already a Grade 1 winner on turf, Mshawish earned his first Grade 1 win on dirt in the Donn Handicap for owner Al Shaqab Racing and trainer Todd Pletcher. Thirty minutes prior, Lukes Alley surged late to beat out front-running Shining Copper in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Mor Spirit solidified his place on the Kentucky Derby trail for Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert, earning 10 Derby points in winning the Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Saturday. Later that day, Hoppertunity prevailed by a nose over Imperative in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes.

Other notable performances

The top Beyer Speed Figure of the week for a 3-year-old did not go to Songbird in the Las Virgenes (87) or even Mor Spirit in the Lewis (92). That honor went to Danzing Candy, who earned a 93 in winning an optional claimer Friday at Santa Anita for trainer Cliff Sise. The effort is the second-highest Beyer earned by a 3-year-old in a two-turn race (behind only Mohaymen’s 95 in winning the Holy Bull Stakes), and it likely earned him a shot in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes (DRF+ link) next start.

Eclipse Award-finalist Lady Shipman kicked off her 2016 campaign in impressive fashion, with an easy win over seven other fillies and mares in Ladies’ Turf Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday. She earned a 103 Beyer – her sixth straight 100-plus Figure – and served as an ideal prep for her next start, in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint at about five furlongs on the Meydan turf on Dubai World Cup Day on March 26.

Breeding news

Prominent young sire Medaglia d’Oro enjoyed an outstanding weekend on the racetrack, with champion daughter Songbird picking up right where she left off in her 2016 debut in the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita, and sons Mshawish and Valid sweeping the exacta in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Samantha Nicole, a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year and stakes producer Rachel Alexandra, has been retired to Stonestreet Farm in Lexington and will be bred to Bernardini this season, hoping to capitalize on a cross that has proven successful with her family.

Horses to watch

Santa Anita:

Trainer: Phil D’Amato
Last race: Feb. 5, 3rd
Finish: 5th by 8 1/4
Beyer: 68
A pace duel from the rail, racing seven furlongs the first time out, contributed to this filly’s defeat. A 4-year-old filly, she had worked well and can be followed next time from a better post.

DRF Plus subscribers can see the rest of Brad Free’s horses to watch from last week by clicking here.

reporting by Jay Hovdey, Mike Hogan, Marty McGee, Nicole Russo, Mark Simon, and Mike Welsch