Songbird Brilliant Again, Maybe The Next Rachel or Zenyatta?
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Since 2000, racing has had its share of all-time great male horses with the likes of Curlin, Ghostzapper, and Wise Dan all leaving a unique legacy of brilliance, but it's been the fillies of recent years making even more of an indelible mark.
2009 was an unforgettable year with the emergence of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. The two stars dominated their respective divisions with an east coast versus west coast showdown seeming inevitable. Perhaps fittingly, the matchup between the star fillies never happened. Fitting because neither superstar deserved to lose or have her reputation besmirched by the trivialities of a single race. Despite never getting a chance to run against the other, Zenyatta and Rachel each went on to accomplish unique and historic racing feats. Rachel become the first filly to win the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes in 85 years, just the second filly to win the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes, and the first filly to conquer older males in the long and illustrious history of the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. For her part, Zenyatta became the first female to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic while maintaining an unbeaten career record until her heartbreaking runner-up finish in the 2010 Classic. Surely racing would not see fillies of this caliber again anytime soon, but watching Songbird's 2015 and 2016 campaign so far invites curiosity.
Songbird further along than Rachel or Z
Just how good can the undefeated Jerry Hollendorfer trainee be? So far, Songbird has destroyed her competition in six starts, including five consecutive graded stakes wins. The exceptionally fast three year-old filly employs a front-running style reminiscent of Rachel Alexandra's, but her flawless record invites direct comparison's to Queen Z. If anything, Songbird has been better at this point in her career than either of her superstar predecessors. Rachel Alexandra was not as precocious as a two year-old winning three of six starts, and Zenyatta did not race until she was four. Songbird's 99 Beyer Speed Figure while winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies was nothing short of incredible - especially considering the figure was 10 points higher than the one earned by BC Juvenile winner Nyquist in the race for colts.
Watching greatness develop
With the connections emphatically declaring Songbird is not being considered for a run in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, the filly is on a collision course with the Kentucky Oaks. Surely, the competiton will get steeper from here, and how will the champ react when confronted with another top-class front-runner? There are questions to be answered, but it's not too early to begin wondering if Songbird can keep winning and ascend into the same class as Racel Alexandra and Zenyatta.