October 2017 Issue - page 9

PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
October 2017
Page 9
So for this reason, we are
retiring our lovely Songbird.
She was an absolute joy to race,
and we expect that she'll be as
wonderful a broodmare as she
was a racehorse. She took us on
an incredible and unforgettable
journey. While we're sad that we
must retire her, we absolutely
cannot risk having another Eight
Belles kind of devastation and
are ultimately happy that she is
retiring in good health. May she
soar to new heights in her future
journey.
We'd like to publicly thank
the incomparable Dr. Larry
Bramlage, Dr. Katie Garrett, and
the rest of the staff at Rood &
Riddle.”
Songbird spent the winter at
WinStar Farm recovering from
bone bruising at the end of her
championship 3-year-old cam-
paign. She got a late start to the
year after kicking a wall in her
stall causing a minor injury to a
front leg that delayed her training
in March. Racing in the red-and-
white colors of Porter’s Fox Hill
Farms Songbird captured the Og-
den Phipps Stakes (Grade-1) by a
length in her 4-year old debut at
Belmont Park on June 10. Then
she had to work hard to defeat an
overmatched field by a length in
the Delaware Handicap on a very
hot, humid afternoon at Delaware
Park on July 15.
Those two races were a far
cry from Songbird's first 11 races
of her career where she won by
an average of 5 1/2 lengths, most
of them Grade-1 stakes. Last
year Songbird dazzled with a 5
1/4-length, gate-to-wire victo-
ry in the 2016 Coaching Club
American Oaks (Grade-1) prior
to a seven-length romp in the
Alabama Stakes (Grade-1) on the
front end.
Her lone defeat prior to
the Personal Ensign was in a
knock-down drag-out battle with
3-time champion Beholder in the
$2 million 2016 Breeders’ Cup
Distaff.
"That was a race for the
ages," Porter related. "It was a
titanic battle the whole length of
the stretch where she came up a
head bob short, losing by maybe
three inches. Gary Stevens said
he never saw a more tenacious
stretch duel during his nearly 40
years of racing."
Battling Cancer
The best horse Porter has
owned, Songbird has been a
huge shot in the arm for the
76-year-old owner, who has
been battling cancer. Porter
missed her spectacular victory
in the 2016 Alabama Stakes at
Saratoga because he was hos-
pitalized. In early June Porter
started an experimental cancer
treatment at Massachusetts Gen-
eral Hospital, seeking to reverse
the growth of tumors that have
plagued him the past two years.
The treatment involved the
removal, transformation, and
re-insertion of cells. When he
left the hospital after six weeks
of treatments, Porter was de-
clared in full remission.
"She really has meant so
much to me, not just me but
my whole family, and she had
such a large fan base," Porter
acknowledged. "She's the most
popular horse that has been
around in years. More than
12,000 folks turned out at Dela-
ware Park and after the Personal
Ensign she got a standing ova-
tion from all those people who
lined the rail. She's got so many
fans and I just feel so bad for
them all now."
A native of Wilmington,
Del., Porter will be honored by
the National Turf Writers and
Broadcasters Association at their
58th annual awards dinner Nov.
2 at the Brigantine Seafood &
Oyster Bar in Del Mar, Calif.
Best known for campaigning
such Thoroughbred standouts as
2011 Horse of the Year Havre
de Grace, Breeders' Cup Distaff
winner Round Pond, Grade 1
winner Hard Spun, who finished
runner-up in the 2007 Ken-
tucky Derby and Breeders' Cup
Classic, and Kentucky Derby
runner-up Eight Belles under his
Fox Hill Farms banner, Porter
will be honored with the Mr. Fitz
Award for typifying the spirit of
racing.
The award honors legendary
trainer Jim "Sunny" Fitzsim-
mons. His six-decade career
stretched back to 1885, when,
as an eleven-year-old, he began
working as a stable boy. He
trained 13 Triple Crown race
winners, more than 250 winners
of stakes events, including two
winners of the American Triple
Crown champions in Gallant Fox
(1930) and Gallant Fox’s colt
Omaha (1935).
"I'm very honored to
receive this award, so many
great people in racing have been
awarded it," Porter said. "It
really does reflect the love and
spirit I have for the sport. I was
up against some top competition
in Wayne Hughes and Frank
Stronach. I'm humbled, blessed
and truly grateful."
Through all the highs and
lows, including the crushing
aftermath of Eight Belles' fatal
breakdown, Porter's passion and
enthusiasm for the sport have
been on public display through
his racing charity endeavors
and Facebook postings. On July
15 Songbird triumphed in the
$750,000 Delaware Handicap,
giving her owner his first win
in his state's most prestigious
race that was first run in 1955.
Songbird was being pointed
toward the year end goal of the
$2 million Longines Breeders'
Cup Distaff (Grade-1) on No-
vember 4.
Bred in Kentucky by John
Antonelli, she was purchased by
Fox Hill Farm for $400,000 at the
2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga se-
lected yearling sale. Porter named
her in honor of the late singer
Eva Cassidy. Songbird retires
with 13 wins from 15 starts and
$4,692,000 in earnings. She won
the Eclipse Award for Top Two-
Year-Old Filly in 2015 and Top
Three-Year-Old filly in 2016.
As Porter was saying fare-
well to Songbird's racing career,
he mentioned a pair of talented
2-year olds who are under the
tutelage of longtime trainer Larry
Jones. Forever is a Medaglia
d'Oro filly, while New Colossus is
a Curlin colt. The latter is named
for the Statue of Liberty poem by
Emma Lazarus. New Colossus is
famous for its last lines that have
become part of American history:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to
breathe free.” In the early 1900s
a plaque with the poem’s text was
mounted inside the pedestal of
the statue.
Songbird will spend her early
retirement at Taylor Made Farm
in Lexington in the former stall of
Porter's Horse of the Year Havre
de Grace. Porter has never bred
his top-tier mares, so Songbird
will be offered at this year's
Fasig-Tipton November sale
November 6.
(Continued from page 6)
Catastrophic Breakdown Averted: Bone Chip, Suspensory Issues Retire Songbird
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