Saturday’s $300,000 Las Virgenes S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park features just seven fillies, but the one-mile contest will be one of the most watched races on the day thanks to the return of unbeaten champion Songbird.
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races, but Songbird shouldn’t have to worry about getting into that May 6 affair. The talented miss currently leads the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard with 30 points, all earned last year in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), Chandelier S. (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
That latter race closed out Songbird’s Eclipse Award-winning two-year-old campaign, and the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has been a regular on the Santa Anita worktab as she readied for her three-year-old debut in this spot. Most recently the Medgalia d’Oro lass recorded a seven-furlong move in 1:26.60 on January 27.
Mike Smith guided Songbird throughout her four races last year and will be back in the irons as the popular filly kicks off her 2016 season.
There is one other Grade 1 winner in the Las Virgenes and, unlike others in the race, she’ll be facing Songbird for the first time on Saturday.
Street Fancy sandwiched a third-place run in Del Mar’s Desi Arnaz S. between a Santa Anita maiden win and a rallying one-length victory in the December 12 Starlet S. (G1) at Los Alamitos. That latter 1 1/16-mile affair rounded out Street Fancy’s two-year-old campaign under Smith, and she’ll be getting Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza in the irons this time.
Land Over Sea and Jade Princess have both already faced Songbird in the Chandelier, with the former a well-beaten second and the latter filling the fifth spot. Jade Princes captured her sophomore debut on January 8 over track and distance, while Land Over Sea was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her last race.
The rest of the Las Virgenes field is made up of Grade 3-placed Decked Out, who has already raced twice this year when seventh in the January 2 Santa Ynez S. (G2) and third against allowance/optional claiming rivals on January 18; Merirosvo, a second out maiden winner on January 3; and She’s a Warrior, still seeking a first victory but a half-length second to Street Fancy in the duo’s career opener.