Mor Spirit, Songbird impress in works

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mor Spirit and Songbird, one the likely favorite for the Santa Anita Derby and the other a certain favorite for the Santa Anita Oaks, put in impressive workouts Monday at Santa Anita. The Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks will be run Saturday.

Both were officially given half-mile times by Santa Anita’s clockers, and both had their works termed “breezing.” Of the 122 horses who worked on the main track Monday, they were the only two to have their works designated as breezing. The other 120 horses were listed as “handily.”

Mor Spirit was a troubled second in last month’s San Felipe Stakes behind Danzing Candy. They will have a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby. Mor Spirit was given an official time of 47 seconds by the clockers, who had Mor Spirit going out five furlongs in 59.80 seconds to the seven-eighths pole.

Bob Baffert, who trains Mor Spirit, had him in 59.60 seconds from the five-furlong pole to the wire. Mor Spirit worked in company, was about five lengths in arrears at the three-furlong pole, and breezed on by in the lane. Martin Garcia was up for the work, but Gary Stevens – who watched the work from the stands – has the mount Saturday.

“Beautiful,” a clearly enthused Baffert said. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about. He’s ready now.”

More than two hours earlier, just after sunrise, the unbeaten filly Songbird was timed in 46.80 seconds – the best of 58 works at the distance Monday – while appearing to be in no more than a high lope under jockey Mike Smith.

When Smith rode her past the grandstand after the work, he turned toward trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who was sitting in the stands, took both hands off the reins, and flashed two thumbs up.

Hollendorfer, who watched the work from near the eighth pole, had Songbird in 46.42 seconds, but his vantage point didn’t give him the same view as the official clockers, who sit right on the finish line. Songbird looms a heavy favorite when she goes for her seventh win Saturday.

“She did that nice and easy,” Hollendorfer said. “Smooth and easy, as usual.”

Hollendorfer said Songbird has matured physically this spring.

“We’ve all thought working with her this year that she’s stronger,” Hollendorfer said, referring to observations made by him and assistant Dan Ward.

Entries will be taken and posts drawn for the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks on Wednesday.

Tom Franklin is a senior contributor at US Racing.
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