Fever knocks Songbird out of Kentucky Oaks

A fever will prevent the champion Songbird from starting in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Songbird was diagnosed with a fever in the days after her win in the $400,345 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9. Her condition did not improve over the weekend, owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said on Sunday evening.

Porter announced Songbird’s defection via his Facebook page on Sunday evening, writing, “We have to report that Songbird will miss the Kentucky Oaks. She developed a low grade fever after the [Santa Anita] Oaks and has not been able to go to the track.

“With the fever not resolved, she was started on a course of antibiotics today, and as a result it’ll be another seven-10 days before she’s able to return to the track.

“We are sorry to have to miss the Oaks but what’s most important is to get Songbird well.”

The champion 2-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird would have been a heavy favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. She is unbeaten in seven starts.

“Like most of the things that happen, we try to catch it right away,” Hollendorfer said in a phone interview. “She just showed up with a temperature one morning. It never got to be a huge temperature, just a low grade one. We think she’ll be fine. She can’t train right now.”

Hollendorfer said he will not make race plans for Songbird until she is fully recovered.

“Our point race was the Oaks and we’re not going to make that race,” he said. “Once we get back to training, we’ll pick another program for her. There are plenty of races to run.

“What matters the most is taking care of Songbird. Things didn’t go perfect and we still have a great future with Songbird.

“We won’t take any chances and we’ll be conservative with her.”

Songbird has yet to be tested in her career, winning seven races by a combined 36 lengths. In several of those races, jockey Mike Smith has not urged her in the final furlong.

Songbird has won three races this year – the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes in February, the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes in March, and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Last summer and fall, Songbird won three consecutive Grade 1 races – the Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

By Medaglia d’Oro, Songbird has earned $1,982,000 for Porter, who bought her for $400,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.