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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.

Arrogate remains on course for Pacific Classic at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Bob Baffert wasn’t beating himself up a day after Arrogate’s upset loss in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar that snapped the seven-race winning streak of the world’s top-ranked horse.

The Hall of Fame trainer said Sunday that other than getting a lot of dirt in his eyes and mouth the 4-year-old colt emerged in good physical condition after finishing fourth, beaten by 15 \ lengths as the 1-20 favorite.

Baffert says that as long as Arrogate continues working out well and nothing comes up, the colt will run in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 at Del Mar. Baffert says Arrogate “will be ready next time.”

Arrogate was never better than fourth among the five-horse field during the race. Accelerate led all the way and won by 8 + lengths.

Arrogate soundly beaten by Accelerate in stunner at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Mike Smith tried everything he could with Arrogate. He moved the colt to the outside, but he didn’t pick up the pace. Smith dropped him down near the rail before wheeling him outside once more.

Nothing worked.

“He just wasn’t trying,” the Hall of Fame jockey said.

Accelerate stunned overwhelming favorite Arrogate to win the $300,000 San Diego Handicap by 8 1/2 lengths Saturday at Del Mar, snapping the seven-race winning streak of the world’s top-ranked horse.

Arrogate finished fourth, beaten by 15 1/4 lengths in the 4-year-old colt’s first race since March 25 in Dubai.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Smith said. “He was just flat, so flat.”

His trainer, Bob Baffert, was blunter, saying Arrogate “laid an egg.”

It wasn’t the first time Accelerate got the best of Arrogate. Last year at Los Alamitos, Accelerate beat Arrogate by a neck in the colt’s career debut in a race won by another horse. It was Arrogate’s lone loss until Saturday.

“I thought he’d run better than that,” Baffert said, “but he just didn’t want to go.”

Accelerate lived up to his name, leading all the way while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.15.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Accelerate paid $17.60, $32.60 and $22 as the 7-1 second choice in the field of five.

“He got in a nice rhythm; he was going easy,” said Espinoza, aboard for the first time. “I was surprised by how far I won. I wasn’t surprised that I did; I was here to win.”

Donworth, a 24-1 shot, returned $119.80 and $67.40. His payoffs were a track record, bettering the old mark of $101.60 and $40.20 set by Cipria on Sept. 1, 1955.

Baffert-trained Cat Burglar paid $38.20 to show.

All but $214,466 of the $2,671,938 total win, place and show pool wagering was bet on Arrogate, the 1-20 favorite.

Arrogate’s winning streak included the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup. He earned $18,000, boosting his career total to $17,102,600, a North American record.

It wasn’t the first time Baffert had led a world-beater to the track only to watch him lose.

That’s what happened in 2015, when American Pharoah was stunned by Keen Ice in the Travers barely two months after becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

“That’s why my hair is white,” Baffert quipped after the race.

Under the race’s handicap conditions, Arrogate carried high weight of 126 pounds, spotting Accelerate nine pounds. But Baffert said the weight difference had nothing to do with the result.

Heading to the rail beforehand, Accelerate’s trainer, John Sadler, said he thought the race would be closer than people thought.

“You want to win, you don’t want to concede anything, but I’m surprised we won because Arrogate is the best horse in the world,” Sadler said. “A couple of things went right for us and one of them was that Arrogate didn’t fire his best. That’s what has to happen for these big upsets.”

With Accelerate setting the pace, Smith had Arrogate last through the opening half-mile before they began making their move into the far turn. But Arrogate’s rally was brief while Accelerate cruised to the finish line in front of a shocked crowd at the seaside oval north of San Diego.

Arrogate will have a chance to turn the tables in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19, when the two colts are expected to meet again.

“We’ve got to go back and start over again,” Smith said. “Get it back right.”