For most handicappers and bettors, the 2017 Delaware Handicap is a done deal. Songbird has been installed as a heavy 1/5 favorite, but the excitement of seeing one of the best racehorses in the world compete. One person who shares the thrill is jockey Mike Smith who spoke openly this week about his time with Songbird.
Smith has been in the saddle for Songbird and will take up the honor once more in the 2017 Delaware Handicap. The two paired for a win in the 2017 Ogden Phipps, where they beat out Paid Up Subscriber with relative ease. The champion 2 and 3 Year Old Filly is 12-1-0 in thirteen starts having only lost the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff by a nose against the legendary Beholder.
“I was interested in how she handled the progression from the 3-year-olds to racing against older horses once she turned 4, but I was very pleased with her first start back in the Phipps Stakes at Belmont,” Smith stated recently. “She was able to handle the surface at Belmont which is sandier and a bit more tiring than West Coast tracks, and she dug in well when challenged in the stretch by that other horse and wouldn’t let her go by. It was a very good race for her and she’s trained great since so I expect her to bring her A-game Saturday.”
Jockey Mike Smith has been aboard countless champions, but Songbird seems to strike a special chord with him. “She’s great around the barn, friendly and good to be around,” Smith continued in regards to preparation for the 2017 Delaware Handicap. “But when they pull her hay rack on race day, she knows she’s going to be going out to do battle and she puts on her game face. When she comes into the paddock, I can see it in her demeanor, she’s focused, zeroed in, and wants to be tacked up so her and me can get on the track and go about our business. In short, she’s a professional, a warrior, and a true champion.”
The obvious long term plan is to have Songbird contend for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, so this weekend’s challenge is all about maintaining momentum. Weep no More and Martini Glass are the next two choices on the board, but it’s impossible to predict how competitors will react to being dusted by Songbird.
2017 Delaware Handicap – Saturday, July 15th at Delaware Park
1 1/4 Miles – 3+ Year Old Fillies – $750,000
|1||Miss Mo Kelly||Kellyn Gorder||Carol Cedeno||111||15-1|
|2||Martini Glass||Keith Nations||Jose Ferrer||115||8-1|
|3||Weep No More||George Arnold II||Joel Rosario||111||6-1|
|4||Line of Best Fit||Keiron Magee||TBA||112||12-1|
|5||Songbird||Jerry Hollendorfer||Mike Smith||124||1/5|
|6||Hone In||Victoria Oliver||Tyler Gaffalione||111||15-1|