Songbird Looks to Join Elite Class With Win in Alabama

Songbird

Songbird

“In New York, they like winners. They don’t like second place.”
~Eli Manning

Songbird will continue her assault on the East Coast three-year-old filly division this Saturday in the Grade I, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at beautiful Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.  In a race lacking top-quality challengers, the superstar filly out of Medaglia d’Oro, is looking to remain undefeated in her young career and push her record to a perfect 10 wins in 10 starts.

The Alabama Stakes is no ordinary Grade I affair, however, as it is long on tradition and is considered the female version of the Travers Stakes.  Just like its counterpart, the Alabama Stakes will be run at 1 1/4 miles.

Since 1990, 10 winners of the Alabama Stakes have gone on to win the Eclipse award for champion three-year-old filly:

YEAR HORSE
1990 Go For Wand
1994 Heavenly Prize
1996 Yanks Music
1998 Banshee Breeze
1999 Silverbulletday
2002 Farda Amiga
2008 Proud Spell
2010 Blind Luck
2011 Royal Delta
2012 Questing

With a win on Saturday, Songbird will more than likely add her name to that illustrious list. So the question becomes: Where do we rank Songbird with some of the greats that have won this prestigious race?

To be clear, ranking horses from different generations is fool’s gold. It is fun to talk about, but nothing really comes from it. What we can do, however, is compare some numbers and appreciate the greatness of an amazing history of the Alabama Stakes and the greatness of a filly who is still going strong in Songbird.

Take for instance the following chart featuring five mystery horses:

HORSE MED BEYER FIGURE LAST 3 LAST RACE  BEYER FIGURE AVERAGE ODDS
A 98 101 0.5
B 95 99 1.5
C 94 99 1.9
D 96 96 1.7
E 90 85 2.9

This chart shows us:

  • The median Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) for the last three starts prior to the Alabama Stakes for each mystery horse.
  • The last race BSF prior to the Alabama Stakes for each mystery horse.
  • The average odds for each mystery horse prior to the Alabama Stakes.

You might be wondering why I included odds in this example. Odds are an important indicator of form, much like share prices on the stock market. When a stock rises in cost, demand is at a fever pitch and the performance of the stock is expected to improve.

The same can be said about racehorses.

When the market pronounces a horse as the favorite, those who make the market — the bettors — are expecting the horse to run well.

As the chart above indicates, the five horses listed were highly thought of before the Alabama.  The 0.5 (1-2) average odds on horse A is outstanding — not for the gambler, of course, but in terms of respect for the horse.  Have a guess who horse A might be?

Let’s find out…

HORSE MED BEYER FIGURE LAST 3 LAST RACE  BEYER FIGURE AVERAGE ODDS
Songbird 98 101 0.5
Heavenly Prize 95 99 1.5
Blind Luck 94 99 1.9
Yanks Music 96 96 1.7
Royal Delta 90 85 2.9

By utilizing this small amount of data, we are able to establish that Songbird is coming into the Alabama in a historically significant way.  She is slightly ahead of the other 3-year-old Eclipse champions listed above in the Beyer Speed Figure department, but she blows them away when you compare her odds to theirs.

She has dominated her competition and the market shows that. What other areas can we compare the previous Alabama Stakes winners to Songbird?

Since 1990:

  • Songbird comes into this year’s edition of the Alabama Stakes with five Grade I victories under her belt — that is with Sky Beauty for the most Grade I victories prior to the Alabama.
  • Songbird is tied with Silverbulletday with seven Grade I and Grade II victories coming into the Alabama Stakes.
YEAR HORSE GRADE I WINS GRADE II WINS

TOTAL

2016 SONGBIRD 5 2 7
1999 SILVERBULLETDAY 3 4 7
1993 SKY BEAUTY 5 1 6
2010 BLIND LUCK 4 2 6
1990 GO FOR WAND 4 0 4
  • Songbird ranks sixth overall in median Beyer Speed Figure for her last three starts prior to the Alabama Stakes.
YEAR HORSE MEDIAN BEYER FIGURE LAST 3
1999 SILVERBULLETDAY 102
1993 SKY BEAUTY 102
1998 BANSHEE BREEZE 100
1992 NOVEMBER SNOW 100
2001 FLUTE 99
2016 SONGBIRD 98
2012 QUESTING 98
2013 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR 97
2007 LADY JOANNE 96
2004 SOCIETY SELECTION 96
1996 YANKS MUSIC 96
2000 JOSTLE 96
2008 PROUD SPELL 96
1997 RUNUP THE COLORS 96
  • Songbird ranks seventh overall when it comes to the highest last-race Beyer Speed Figure prior to the Alabama Stakes.
YEAR HORSE LAST BEYER SPEED FIGURE
2013 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR 105
2002 FARDA AMIGA 103
2009 CARELESS JEWEL 103
1999 SILVERBULLETDAY 102
1998 BANSHEE BREEZE 102
1992 NOVEMBER SNOW 102
2016 SONGBIRD 101
2007 LADY JOANNE 99
1994 HEAVENLY PRIZE 99
2010 BLIND LUCK 99

There is no such thing as a sure thing in racing, but Songbird seems as close as it gets. It would take a monumental effort by another filly to knock her off of her perch. In fact, there is a great chance that Songbird will run a career-best BSF in the Alabama if she wins on Saturday.

Since 1992:

  • 17 fillies have either tied or beat their previous best Beyer Speed Figure when they won the Alabama Stakes.
YEAR HORSE PREVIOUS BEST ALABAMA
1994 HEAVENLY PRIZE 99 111
1995 PRETTY DISCREET 86 110
1996 YANKS MUSIC 103 104
1997 RUNUP THE COLORS 96 107
1998 BANSHEE BREEZE 102 107
1999 SILVERBULLETDAY 109 115
2000 JOSTLE 98 101
2001 FLUTE 99 106
2003 ISLAND FASHION 94 101
2004 SOCIETY SELECTION 98 107
2005 SWEET SYMPHONY 92 104
2006 PINE ISLAND 97 101
2007 LADY JOANNE 99 99
2008 PROUD SPELL 100 101
2009 CARELESS JEWEL 103 106
2012 QUESTING 105 106
2015 EMBELLISH THE LACE 95 96

History seems to be on the side of Songbird, as she looks to remain undefeated with a win on Saturday. I hope this article reminds us all of just how good she is.

As we conclude, we must not forget about Songbird’s jockey Mike Smith, as he aims to win his fifth Alabama Stakes. With a win, he will tie Jerry Bailey and Jorge Velasquez for the most wins in the history of the race… as if we needed another reason to tune in.

Andrew Morisch
Drew Morisch, aka “Drew Mo” or the “Bloghorse,” has been an avid sports fan since he was born. Growing up in Nebraska, it was easy for him to fall in love with football and horse racing. He became a huge horse racing fan by attending Ak-Sar-Ben race track before its gates closed (sadly) for the last time in 1995.

Horses such as Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Black Tie Affair, Preakness winner Gate Dancer and local favorite Who Doctor Who all graced the dirt at Ak-Sar-Ben and helped power Drew’s passion for the Sport of Kings.

Drew has other passions to go along with horse racing. He is a big Nebraska Cornhuskers fan. You will usually find him tailgating at some undisclosed location on game days. Drew loves crunching numbers and analyzing data. Whether it’s PE ratios on stocks, speed figures in horse racing, or assist-to-turnover ratios in basketball, there is no such thing as too much information in his book. Drew also plays fantasy sports.

You interact with Drew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrewMorisch or follow him on Twitter @thebloghorse.

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