The oddsmakers inserted Songbird as the heavy 1/5 favorite in the 2017 Ogden Phipps Stakes, hoping that the champion filly would return to her winning ways. The ruthless four-year-old filly made short work of her competition, proving that she is still the female horse to beat. It seems like that narrow defeat at the hands of Beholder in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff is nothing more than a memory.
More so, it could also be called rocket fuel. Songbird had been held out of action since the World Championships last year at Santa Anita where she suffered her first career loss. Her connections have tactfully – and respectfully – been cautious about building too much hype around her. But she delivered in a brutally efficient turn on Sunday at the 2017 Ogden Phipps.
Covering a distance of 1 1/16th miles is no easy task, but Songbird seemed ready to burst as she did just that right out of the gates. The favorite took the lead as she was trailed by Paid Up Subscriber and Carina Mia, who each shared distant 7/1 odds as co-second choices.
Right at the top of the final turn, Paid Up Subscriber made a bold move to challenge Songbird and took the lead but the favorite wasn’t having it. Calmly and steadily, Songbird regained the lead and then did just enough to edge out her rival by a length. She seemed to cruise in to the finish line as Paid Up Subscriber simply didn’t have enough pace to catch the eventual winner.
“She is so good out of the gate, and God willing she’ll continue to do so,” jockey Mike Smith said. “She jumped really, really well and I stayed off the fence today, just because it’s her first race back. If someone wanted to get brave and move early at her, I’d rather move into my inside, so that I could wait and keep my position. That part worked out and after that, I hand rode her home. She got a little tired, but she is supposed to.”
Those who took the preference in the 2017 Ogden Phipps Stakes were still handsomely rewarded as Songbird delivered $2.70, $2.30 and $2.10 across the board. Paid Up Subscriber was second before Highway Star, who edged Carina Mia to take third.
In wake of victory, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer offered no succinct direction for his future Breeders’ Cup contender. The field of female competitors isn’t much, but the Distaff victory is still missing. And it would be a big stretch to match Songbird up against fellow four-year-old Arrogate, though that has all the makings of a dream matchup.
“There might be some kind of chance that we might see her at Saratoga this summer, but don’t forget we have the Breeders’ Cup on the West Coast this year,” Hollendorfer noted concerning his 2017 Ogden Phipps winner. “That’s an important consideration. We talked a little bit about running her in the Delaware, but I’m not real sure about that. We’re going to talk some more about those kinds of plans.”