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.