Saturday Stakes Preview: Magnificent Songbird towers over Santa Anita Oaks field


>>Go to the PPs for The G1 Santa Anita Oaks, Post Time 3:10 PDT Saturday

The Grade 1, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks has a field of seven fillies going a mile and 1/16 on a main track that seems very like to be wet, if not out and out muddy. The obscenely talented Songbird is going to be an obscenely low price—rain or no rain.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Songbird is going to be on a clear early lead. Her closest pursuer is expected to be Jade Princess.

The fastest Late Pace rating in the field, an 88, belongs to Mokat.

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Songbird is now 6 for 6. She has won all of these races by big margins. She has led at every call except one. She has beaten better fields than she sees here. Her best speed figures (120, 116) tower over this field. The worst race she has ever run (her debut) saw her earn a number (104) that might be able to win this race. She figures to control the pace. She handles the distance with ease. Her wet-track breeding is adequate. Her trainer is at the top of the sport. Her rider is as cool as they come in big races and has ridden her in every start. She has trained regularly and has good rest coming into the race. Is it possible to envision her losing? Sure. Simply tell yourself that she will be running on a muddy track and that she won’t be able to handle it. But we have a hard time putting our heart into that.

What about her competition?

If forced to choose a filly to pull the upset, we would absolutely choose Bellamentary. She ran well in both starts last year. She ran an 87 in her debut, which came at Del Mar over 5.5 furlongs. Then she moved to Santa Anita, stretched out to a mile, rated off the pace, won with ease, and improved her figure to an 89. Sidelined with a minor physical problem, she returned to the races in March, in a bottom level allowance over this track, and she put in a superb effort. Racing 7F, she took very strong betting action despite the presence in the race of Bob Baffert’s talented Treasuring, then broke poorly, showed a nice burst of speed after recovering, quickly made the lead, recorded fast fractions (note pace figure color-coded in red), put away the gallant-but-overmatched horse to her inside, and then drew away in style—never giving the closers a look. She earned a 98 for that victory. We believe she could have run considerably faster with a different trip. She has already handled two turns. Trainer Phil D’Amato gets a 93 rating second off the layoff, a 100 going sprint to route, and a 99 going from allowances to stakes. If Songbird were not in this race, Bellamentary would be our selection.

The Bottom Line:

We will not oppose Songbird, but if we were so inclined, we would take our chances with Bellamentary.

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