The latter mystery is still alive and well, but the former is not. Those entities that permitted show betting lost a total of US$158,462 to meet the minimum required payoff on Songbird, who went off as close to a sure thing as racing ever sees. After she broke cleanly from the gate, the only question was how much she would win by. Her final margin of 3-3/4 lengths could easily have been much larger as the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro turned in what was essentially another paid workout.
After today's performance, fans will undoubtedly be howling even louder for Songbird to take on the boys in the Kentucky Derby---Presented by Yum! Brands (USA-I). Nonetheless, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and owner Rick Porter remain firm that the filly's next target will be the Santa Anita Oaks (USA-I), followed by the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-I) if all goes well.
It's true that there is only one Kentucky Derby. But there is also only one Songbird, and there is no particularly good reason to throw her in against the colts in any one particular race. Because of their refusal to cave in to "Derby fever," Hollendorfer and Porter have the luxury of not being tied to a particular schedule. Would they be disappointed if something came up and their star filly had to miss the Kentucky Oaks? Sure, but probably not the way they would be if the Derby was at stake. After all, Songbird has no stud value to protect; she's probably already worth as much as a broodmare prospect as she ever will be. Will it prove her worth against this year's males any less if she waits until the major late summer races to take a shot at them? Not really, and summer and fall are historically better times for fillies to go up against males.
In the meantime, Songbird still has a couple of talented rivals who may make her run to the 3-year-old filly championship more than an academic exercise. Cathryn Sophia remains on course for an Oaks showdown while dispatching her Eastern rivals with ease to equal Songbird's, and Polar River added the UAE Oaks (UAE-III) to her UAE One Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) score, handling Argentine Group I winner Vale Dori convincingly although her margin wasn't big. Like Songbird, both fillies have one more stop penciled in on their schedules before the Kentucky Oaks (USA-I), with Cathryn Sophia most likely headed to the Gulfstream Park Oaks (USA-II) and Polar River slated for a showdown with males in the UAE Derby (UAE-II). If both come through as expected, we'll be in for a rare treat in the Kentucky Oaks: three unbeaten sophomore fillies of rare ability staking their claims to the crown.