Report: USA, Saturday
Delaware Park: Delaware Hcap (Grade 1) 1m2f | dirt | 3yo+ f/m
Sent off a 1-20 shot against what looked to be a bunch of vastly inferior rivals, Songbird (Jerry Hollendorfer/Mike Smith) duly won the Delaware Handicap to record her ninth Grade 1 victory, and her 13th career success from 14 starts.
However, the shortest-priced favourite in the 80-year history of the $750,000 event, the dual champion filly was no more than workmanlike as she held off former claimer Martini Glass by just a length.
Although Songbird was conceding between 9lb and 13lb to her four opponents, the race was expected to be little more than a lap of honour for a filly who would still be unbeaten had she not been touched off by the brilliant Beholder at last year's Breeders' Cup.
Mike Smith sent her straight to the front and she was allowed to set moderate fractions, but still had to be urged to fend off the runner-up, who was making her debut in Graded-stakes company.
Though it did not look at all impressive to the eye, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he was pleased to have won a race coveted by Songbird's owner Rick Porter in his home state.
"We are happy that we won and we are happy we could win this race for Rick Porter,” said Hollendorfer.
"I'm not sure where she will go next; there are races all over the country for this filly. Saratoga is definitely a target but we'll see how she comes out of this race. It's a tough race going a mile and quarter."
Smith added: "I feel great and we pulled it off. There is always a little pressure and if there is not, there is something wrong. I take this very seriously. These races are not easy; these are the kind of races you get beat in."