A slow and quiet day at Santa Anita is not unusual, but it is when a horse the caliber of Songbird is prepped and ready to run. She, of course, was not a disappointment, though perhaps it was just the extreme heat that kept away the crowds. There were plenty of dedicated fans on hand to watch her run, along with photographers snapping photos. Photographing her becomes routine, as she is a calm, focused individual so shots begin to look the same, however this does not diminish her greatness or her beauty.
The 1st race started out as many Saturdays do, with a longshot overpowering the field. At nearly 20 to 1, Fabozzi and Edwin Maldonado took the lead early and knocked many of us betting folks out of the Pick 5. Bedeviled, with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard, nearly caught the winner despite a somewhat wild trip and coming out in the stretch.
The 2nd race began with the type of excitement no one wants to see, when the 7 horse, Mrs. Guty, reared then flipped in the walking ring. Mrs. Guty got quickly to her feet after the hard fall and seemed to be okay but was scratched, which is typical when a horse falls. To err on the side of caution, any horse that flips or falls like this is scratched and given a vet check, to be sure there are no injuries. With this filly being the early morning favorite, that left the field open to the six other entered. The new bettors’ pick, Rizzi’s Honors and Tyler Baze cleared the pack in the stretch and hit the wire well ahead of the second place finisher, Sid the Squid.
Another heavy favorite took the 3rd when Comes the Dream and Mike Smith drew clear of It Behooves Me and Fernando Perez. Not so for favorite, Souper Knight in the 4th, who did not rally, and left the field open to Heir of Storm and Rafael Bejarano. Heir of Storm ran away from the rest after some urging from his jockey, with Karma King and Joseph Talamo taking the place.
Though Vinz Clortho was off slow, came out in the turn and was wide in the stretch, Joseph Talamo gave the Ghostzapper colt some left handed urging and they held the win in the 5th. Not many seemed to get the joke in the name of this brown colt but the Ghostbusters fans had a laugh at the memory of Rick Moranis’s corny character.
Edwin Maldonado pulled another big upset when he guided Mr. Roary to victory in the ungraded Rainbow Stakes, race 6. Mr. Roary, at 38 to 1, took the lead early and shook off his rivals then won even after he stumbled a bit in the stretch just before the wire. Ralis and Mario Gutierrez, at almost 8 to 1, took the place and paid a $501 exacta. Race 7 saw another favorite take the win as Tengas Ransom gave Tyler Baze his second win on the day.
The 8th was the race all were waiting for, the Grace II Summertime Oaks, featuring undefeated champion filly, Songbird, and her usual jockey, Mike Smith. This race proved to be a bit different, as Songbird allowed Bellamentary to take an early lead, but she drew away to win clear, as she always does, with Mike Smith letting out the reins. Bellamentary gamely held her second place finish. Songbird is now eight-for-eight lifetime starts.
The 9th race ended the day with four fillies running who were sired by Unusual Heat. Appropriate, considering the hot day, and even more appropriate that one of them was able to take the win. All That Heat and Flavien Prat were three wide in the far turn but moved away from Golden Light and Tiago Pereira to get the win.
All in all, a fabulous day of racing, with Santa Anita’s princess, Songbird proving what everyone murmurs about – she might just be the best three-year-old in the country. Her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer says he has no plans to run her against the boys just yet, so it will be other fillies who are left in her dust for now. We’ll just have to wait and see. Mike Smith though put in a few good words after winning, saying it was like she ‘had wings.’ Songbird can definitely fly.