Songbird wins comeback; Baffert, Smith win big at Belmont

June 10, 2017
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NEW YORK (AP) Songbird captured her comeback, winning the $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares, while Mike Smith and trainer Bob Baffert also starred on the Belmont Stakes undercard Saturday.

Smith, who has ridden Songbird in every race, won four stakes, teaming with Baffert for three of those victories.

They combined to win the $700,000 Acorn with Abel Tasman ($6.30 to win), the $500,000 Woody Stephens with American Anthem ($5.90) and the $150,000 Easy Goer with West Coast ($5.70).

For Songbird, the Phipps was her first start since her lone career defeat last November in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

That loss by a nose to Beholder snapped Songbird’s 11-race winning streak.

Despite the layoff, the bettors backed the 4-year-old with gusto as the 1-5 favorite. The divisional champion at 2 and 3 appeared primed and eager in the post parade and showed no rust as she broke alertly from the gate to set the pace while racing well off the rail.

Paid Up Subscriber offered the lone serious challenge, rallying up the fence to engage Songbird around the turn and through the lane.

Smith took the upset bid in stride, confidently urging Songbird to a length victory.

”Let’s call this a great race off the layoff,” Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. ”I’m not sure she’s at the top of her game right now, but she did very well. Mike gave her a great ride and he’s in the groove today.”

Song ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.24 and paid $2.70, $2.30 and $2.10

Paid Up Subscriber returned $4.50 and $2.90. Highway Star paid $3.10 to show.

The victory earned Songbird a guaranteed berth in the BC Distaff this fall at Del Mar.

In other stakes:

– Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman beat Salty by a length in the Acorn for 3-year-old fillies. For Smith, it was his fifth Acorn win for five different trainers. Baffert has won the Acorn four times.

– American Anthem, once considered a Triple Crown contender, has won consecutive stakes since Baffert returned him to sprint races. He drew clear to a 3-length win in the Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds, running seven furlongs in 1:22.14.

– War Story rallied to win the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational at the same 1+-mile distance as the Belmont. Javier Castellano rode for trainer Jorge Navarro as the 5-year-old gelding got his fifth win in 21 starts, beating Sunny Ridge by 2+ lengths and paying $10 to win.

– Disco Partner ($11.60) took the $300,000 Jaipur Invitational with a record-setting performance. The gray 5-year-old ran six furlongs on turf in 1:05.67, erasing the track mark of 1:06.76 set by Pure Sensation in last year’s Jaipur in which Disco Partner was second by a neck. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode for trainer Christophe Clement as Disco Partner earned his seventh win in 17 starts.

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