07/25/2016 3:06PM

The week that was in racing, July 18-24, 2016

Barbara D. Livingston
Songbird wins the Coaching Club of America Oaks.

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 ship east, faces challenge, stays unbeaten in CCA Oaks

On Sunday at Saratoga, the lone Grade 1 dirt race of the weekend featured juvenile champion filly Songbird heading east to face four rivals, most notably Carina Mia, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in June. After eight races where she had never finished less than three lengths ahead of the second-place finisher, this race at the “graveyard of favorites” seemed like it could present the biggest challenge of Songbird’s career. That challenge came around the quarter pole, when Carina Mia ranged up on even terms with her, but Songbird repelled the challenge, drawing away to win by more than five lengths.

California Chrome narrowly best over Dortmund

While it was only a Grade 2 on paper, the San Diego Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar had two Grade 1 horses using the race as a stepping-stone to bigger things. In his first start since winning the Dubai World Cup in March, 2014 Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year California Chrome made his return to the United States a victorious one, beating a game Dortmund by a half-length. These two are due to face each other again in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, and this is a rivalry that could be good for the sport.

Dacita prevails in blanket finish in Grade 1 Diana

Only a neck separated the top four finishers in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, and it was Dacita who earned the nose victory over Recepta, stablemate Rainha Da Bateria, and favored Miss Temple City.

Two stakes highlight Saratoga opening-day card

Todd Pletcher took the first dirt stakes race of the Saratoga meet, and Chad Brown won the first turf one, sparking a trainer battle that should continue throughout the whole meet. In the Grade 3 Schuylerville on Friday, Sweet Loretta took advantage of a hot pace and a good ride by John Velazquez to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Later in the card, Ancient Secret ran her perfect record to 4 for 4, winning the Grade 2 Lake George.

Rachel’s Valentina retired

Grade 1 winner Rachel's Valentina, the only daughter of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, has been retired from racing, owner-breeder Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm announced Sunday.

Horses to watch

Del Mar:
Trainer: Craig Lewis
Last race: July 23, 10th
Finish: 6th by 7 1/2
Beyer: 60
A California-bred facing open company in this maiden turf route, she got sawed off and steadied nearing the quarter pole, lost momentum, re-rallied, and ran much better than the line might look.

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, Mike Watchmaker, and Mike Welsch