The Grade 2 $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby features the two biggest names from the Triple Crown trail September 24 at Parx as a field of 12 gathers in one of the most intriguing betting races of the year.
Champion Songbird Returns in $200,000 Summertime Oaks
Champion Songbird is set to make her much-anticipated return to the races in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on Saturday. The Grade 2 event will be run at a mile and a sixteenth and has attracted a field of seven.
Songbird has been on the sidelines since a fever knocked her out of contention for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in May. Prior to that, she won all three starts as a sophomore and kept her undefeated record intact. She is now seven for seven, six of which came against graded stakes competition. Regular rider Mike Smith had the option to ride Effinex in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) but elected to stay aboard the champion filly instead.
Award winning juvenile season
As a juvenile, Songbird broke her maiden in July at Del Mar impressively. From there, she added the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier Stakes (G1) to her resume before closing out her Eclipse Award winning season with an authoritative win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). All three starts this year have come at Santa Anita but the plan is to head to the East Coast for a summer campaign after this race.
Three contenders for trainer Phil D'Amato
Trainer Phil D’Amato has entered three fillies to try to take down the overwhelming favorite – Bellamentary, Coppa and Sutton’s Smile. Of those three, only Bellametary is a black-type winner and that victory came sprinting in a minor stakes race last time out at Santa Anita. Coppa will be making her stakes debut after two victories from her brief career and Sutton’s Smile has hit the board against graded stakes competition.
The $1 million Cotillion Stakes September 24 at Parx features a true clash of the titans as the six-horse field is headlined by the undefeated, five-time grade 1 winner Songbird who figures to face the most stern challenge of her career.
In a completely wide open renewal of the Presque Isle Mile September 18 at Presque Isle Downs, 13 runners including the also-eligible will contest the eight furlong trip over synthetic footing.
With the prestigious Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap included as part of the Belmont Stakes undercard June 11 at Belmont Park, there are plenty of appealing reasons for bettors to tune in early.