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Undefeated Songbird cruises to win at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. —¬†Songbird won the $200,000 Summertime Oaks for 3-year-old fillies by 6 1/2 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita to improve to 8-0.

Ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Songbird ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.63 and paid $2.10, $2.10 and $2.10 in the Grade 2 race. Wagering on the filly generated a minus show pool of $201,400, with a staggering $1,017,594 out of a total show pool of $1,081,223 was bet on her to finish no worse than third.

Songbird has won her eight career starts by a combined 42 1/2 lengths under Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who turned 70 on Saturday.

Bellamentary returned $2.40 and $2.10 as the 7-1 second choice, while Kay Kay was another nose back in third and paid $3.40 to show.

That’s a Lady was fourth and Sutton’s Smile last. Not Now Carolyn and Coppa were scratched.

Songbird had been idle since winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9.

“I was very happy the way she looked going down the backside,” Hollendorfer said. “She was very comfortable, with her ears up, looking for something. The opportunity presented itself to be just a little off the pace and now we’ve shown everyone we can do that.”

Songbird cruised to the lead leaving the three-furlong pole.

“She stayed in the spot that she wanted to be, cruising alongside of her and it’s just amazing, her cruising speed,” Smith said. “She started lengthening her stride on the backside and I knew we were comfortable. I knew she was going to fire. I just tried to stay out of her way. She has wings on her hooves. It scares me to think of how good she is.”

Smith said last year’s champion 2-year-old filly has “been ready” to take on male competition. However, Hollendorfer said he thinks Songbird will stay in the female ranks for now.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Songbird’s career earnings to $2,102,000.

In the $75,000 Rainbow Stakes, Mr. Roary led all the way to win by a nose, ending an eight-race skid while winning for the first time in his career under Edwin Maldonado.

The 3-year-old gelding ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.48 and paid $78, $29.20 and $14.

Ralis returned $8.60 and $6, while Liam the Charmer was another half-length back in third and paid $3.60 to show.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.