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Top filly Songbird out of Kentucky Oaks with fever

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Without Songbird, the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on the day before the Kentucky Derby won’t be the same.

The undefeated star fill developed a “low grade fever” after winning the Santa Anita Oaks two weeks ago, and won’t run in the race considered the Derby for 3-year-old fillies.

Songbird has won all seven of her races with ease and would have been the overwhelming favorite for the Oaks on May 6. The 2-year-old champion and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the filly is one of the top 3-year-olds in the country – male or female.

“She will be taken care of and will go back to the track only when she is 100 percent,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer told The Associated Press in a phone interview Sunday night. “We’ve got a really nice filly and I suspect she will come back later in the year.”

After her last win, owner Rick Porter Jr., reiterated he would not run his filly against the boys in the Derby. Hollendorfer, a Hall of Fame trainer, also prefers to keep his fillies from competing against males.

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Since the Santa Anita Oaks, Porter posted on his Fox Hill Farms’ Facebook page, Songbird “has not been able to go out to the track. With the fever not resolved, she was started on a course of antibiotics today (Sunday), and as a result it’ll be another 7-10 days before she’s able to return to the track.”

Porter also owned Eight Belles, the filly who finished second to Big Brown in the 2008 Derby before breaking down around the first turn after the finish and being euthanized on the track.

After Songbird’s latest win over a sloppy track, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith marveled, “She’s just incredible. I feel so blessed and I keep pinching myself, having to remind myself that I’m the one that gets to keep the weight on her. That’s really all I do.”

The news leaves the Oaks field wide open. Among the contenders are Fantasy Stakes winner Terra Promessa, Gazelle winner Lewis Bay, Fair Grounds Oaks winner Land Over Sea and Ashland winner Weep No More.

“We are sorry to have to miss the Oaks but what’s most important is to get Songbird well, and we have two great vets along with Jerry and his team taking good care of her,” Porter said.

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.

Six three-year-olds nominated late to Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, is among six 3-year-olds made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown series during the late nomination period.

The late nominees, which required a payment of $6,000 each, raise the total nominations to 425 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The late nomination period closed Monday. The early nomination window closed in January and required a payment of $600.

Ireland-bred Thunder Snow, owned by Godolphin Racing, is set to run Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. The colt has three wins in seven career starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

The other late nominees are Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart; More Than Words, trained by Charlie LoPresti; Parlor, trained by Eddie Kenneally; Rapid Dial, trained by Ingrid Mason; and Stretch’s Stone, trained by Bruce Levine.

Thoroughbreds that weren’t nominated to the Triple Crown have one final chance by paying a supplemental fee. The fee for the Derby is $200,000; $150,000 for the Preakness; and $75,000 for the Belmont.