Songbird, favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, will not got to Churchill Downs because of illness

Jockey Mike Smith celebrates after riding Songbird to an easy win in the Santa Anita Oaks on April 9.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Songbird, the 3-year-old filly some considered even better than the boys, will be skipping the Kentucky Oaks because of a low grade fever the horse has contracted.

The stunning news was announced by owner Rick Porter on Facebook on Sunday.

“Unfortunately we have to report that Songbird will miss the Kentucky Oaks,” Porter said on the site. “She developed a low grade fever after the SA Oaks and has not been able to go out 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 7-10 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.”

Porter went on to say that two veterinarians have been assigned to the filly.


“The outlook is excellent, but we’ve got to give her some time,” Porter told Jeremy Balan of Bloodhorse. “Certainly it was a little deflating, but the more I talked about it, I got over it, because we’ve got to do what’s right.”

While the news about her future is good it is disappointing to the legion of fans whom have made her a track favorite at Santa Anita and nationwide.

“At least she’s going to be OK,” her jockey Mike Smith told The Times. “Her health is the most important thing.”

Songbird has not only won all of her seven races but done those in dominating style. Smith has no idea how much the horse has in reserve.

The filly last ran in the Santa Anita Oaks a week ago Saturday winning easily by 3 ¾ lengths on a rainy day at the Arcadia track.

“That rainy day may have gotten her sick,” said Smith, who had just learned of the horse’s fever. “I know I got sick with a real bad cold or flu. As long as she’s OK, that’s all that matters. She was running so good.”