03/07/2016 3:48PM

The week that was in racing, Feb. 29-March 6, 2016

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Emily Shields
Songbird runs away from her rivals in the Santa Ysabel

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.

Songbird remains in league of her own

The champion 2-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird remained unbeaten and won the fifth stakes of her career in Saturday’s Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita. Despite some impressive performances from others recently, the victory secured Songbird’s place as the best in her division.

Shagaf gives Shadwell another Derby contender

The chances of a Shadwell Stables-owned Kentucky Derby winner improved Saturday, when Shadwell-owned Shagaf overcame a speed-biased Aqueduct inner track to win the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. It may not have been the most impressive of the Derby preps, but Shagaf joins the Shadwell-owned Mohaymen, current leader in Kentucky Derby points and likely favorite in the Derby, among the list of those essentially guaranteed a spot in the starting gate, should they remain healthy.  

Graded stakes action around the country

There were three other graded stakes races Saturday, all at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher saddled four of the seven runners in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, and Blofeld rallied up the rail to run down his stablemate Stanford in the final strides. Pletcher actually trained the first three to cross the wire, but third-place finisher Anchor Down was disqualified and placed fourth for interfering with Valid in the stretch.

Pletcher wasn’t the only trainer to load the starting gate with his horses in a stakes Saturday. Chad Brown swept the first three spots in the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes as Olorda led throughout, then withstood challenges from stablemates Dacita and Guapaza.

Also Saturday, Grand Tito proved he is just as good around three turns as he is around two, parlaying a well-judged ride by Emisael Jaramillo into a 1 1/4-length victory over Kaigun in Saturday’s Grade 2 Mac Diarmida.

DRF updates past performances

Last Friday, DRF released a new tool to help customers get a better handle on pace handicapping and race flows: Pace Ace. Unlike most other pace handicapping products, Pace Ace focuses more on race flow than on early fractions in order to determine whether a give race favored those on or near the lead, or if it set up for runners to come from off the pace. Pace Ace is available now in DRF Classic PPs as well as the digital and print editions, and it will be added to DRF Formulator in the next few weeks.

Other notable performances

Quick quiz: Which horse has posted the top Beyer Speed Figure at the current Santa Anita meet? Nope, it’s not California Chrome or Runhappy or Nyquist or even Songbird. In Saturday’s third race, a 7-year-old gelding named Toledo Eddie trounced a field of four other horses in a $50,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles, winning by more than 15 lengths and posting a 106 Beyer in the first start off the claim for trainer Robertino Diodoro.

A couple horses took the first step toward trying to live up to more famous older siblings last week. Aldrin, half-brother to top sire Tapit, finally broke through with the first win of his career in a maiden special weight race Friday on the Tampa Bay Downs turf. On Sunday, Just Talkin, a full sister to multiple stakes winner Lady Shipman, won her debut in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race on the Gulfstream Park turf, closing with a rush in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

Horses to watch

Santa Anita:
SPOT SPECIAL, by Global Hunter
Trainer: Jonathan Wong
Last race: March 4, 4th
Finish: 5th by 7
Beyer: 52
Curious strategy employed on low-level claiming filly. She set a slow pace early before being wrangled back and surrendering the lead to a front-running winner. This race was a toss.

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

reporting by Steve Andersen, David Grening, Mike Hogan, Jay Hovdey, Kenny Peck, Jay Privman, Nicole Russo, Mike Watchmaker, and Mike Welsch