Songbird once again leaving her rivals trailing as she remained unbeatenPICTURE: Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images
Sensational Songbird soars away at Parx
Report: USA, Saturday
Parx Racing (Philadelphia): Cotillion Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo fillies
THE amazing Songbird (Jerry Hollendorfer/Mike Smith) took her unbeaten sequence to 11 with yet another resounding victory as she overwhelmed a field of top-class rivals in the Cotillion, coasting home by nearly six lengths in a totally dominant performance.
On paper, the $1 million event looked set to provide the sternest test of Songbird's flawless career to date. On the racetrack, it was to prove anything but as the brilliant daughter of Medaglia d'Oro scored in imperious fashion, tracking front-runner Carina Mia before easily taking command at the head of the stretch.
"A picture of perfection," suggested the racecaller as the 3-10 favourite sauntered clear, and it was hard to argue as she won going away from front-runner Carina Mia. Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia, kept off the pace at her home venue, was a poor third nearly seven lengths behind the second.
"She was so happy, so calm and cool," said Mike Smith, the only rider last year's Eclipse Award-winning filly has known. "She was having fun today, that was the old her and I was so glad to see that.
"There have been times when I had to ask her for a jump or two, maybe in the Coaching Club American Oaks for about a good 100 yards, but she does things so easily and I'm so blessed to be a part of her. She seems to have blossomed. I don't know if that's possible or not."
Songbird - who is named after a Fleetwood Mac song, specifically the Eva Cassidy version - stopped the clock at 1m44.02s. She has now won her 11 starts - seven at Grade 1 level - by a cumulative 60½ lengths.
"She just continues to amaze me," said Rick Porter of owners Fox Hill Farms. "It doesn't get any better than to watch her today, she was just gorgeous. I'm proud to watch her race; she gives me chills every time."
Porter confirmed that Songbird's next target is the Breeders' Cup Distaff; she will also stay in training at four. "We got a big one coming now," he said. "I think Jerry and I agree the Distaff is the race to run her in. There's some big cheese in that race."
Hollendorfer agreed. "You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones and there's a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind," he said.
"Those horses can really run. Our horse can really run, so we'd like to try those, and I think that's good competition, if we all get there to the race at Santa Anita."
Connect: entered the Breeders' Cup Classic picture with surprise winPICTURE: Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images
Also on Saturday
Parx Racing: Pennsylvania Derby (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
The 11-1 shot Connect (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) upstaged a field full of better-known rivals to claim this $1.25m contest, beating Gun Runner in game fashion by a half-length after the runner-up drifted out in a final-furlong battle.
The son of Curlin, found to have a lung issue after being slammed behind wildly impressive winner Arrogate in the Travers Stakes on his previous outing, rallied on the inner to put himself in the picture for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux was here to saddled Connect for winning trainer Chad Brown. "He broke really well and found himself in a really good position on the rail saving ground," said DeVaux. "Javier was really patient with him, took his time and made his run and the horse was really gutsy to hang in there."
Four lengths back in third was longshot Wild About Deb but Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, sent off 13-10 favourite, faded to finish sixth, one place in front of his Preakness Stakes conqueror Exaggerator, whose attempts to close on the far turn never got close to the front rank.
Winning for the fourth time in six career starts, Connect recorded a time of 1m50.20s for the 1m1f trip in a race that has a habit of producing a top-class winner: the most recent three victors before this year were subsequent three-year-old champion Will Take Charge, Breeders' Cup Classic hero Bayern and Frosted, now a leading contender for this year's Breeders' Cup.