Songbird on Sabbatical at WinStar

by: Anne M. Eberhardt, @BH_AEberhardt


And the songbirds keep singin'

Like they know the score

And I love, I love you

I love you like never before


-Songbird, by Eva Cassidy



Songbird with Salbador Ceballos. Order This Photo


Champion Songbird's winter sabbatical at Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., will be over soon when the brilliant filly returns to California and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm.



Tack walking with Travis Warnken. Order This Photo


Arriving in mid-November, shortly after the Breeders' Cup, Songbird easily got into her routine at the WinStar training barn run by trainer Richard Budge and assistant trainer Destin Heath. The champion 3-year-old filly elect followed a similar routine after her championship 2-year-old campaign.



Walking to her paddock. Order This Photo


Entrusted with the filly's daily needs, foreman Salbador Ceballos was hands-on with the filly, grooming her and tacking her up each morning and coordinating each day's plan with Heath.



 Free to run in her paddock. Order This Photo


"She's by far the classiest horse you've ever put your hands on. She has all the class in the world," said Ceballos. "If all horses were like this, it would be a beautiful thing."



In her paddock. Order This Photo


Travis Warnken tack-walked her inside the barn for about 30 minutes each morning from 7:30-8 am. She then would return to her stall for more grooming, feeding, and about an hour of down time in her stall.



Enjoying her neighbors. Order This Photo


Kentucky offers a variety of weather at this time of year from sunny, warm days to frigid, single temperature days with snow to heavy rain days. When the weather cooperated and wasn't too extreme, Ceballos would walk Songbird to her paddock where she would stay for about 4-5 hours.


"Temperatures and weather often determine their outdoor schedules," said Heath. "Songbird is all class and took it all in stride."



Time for some hay. Order This Photo


Songbird easily adapted to her new environment and to the weather.  After a good gallop around her paddock, the daughter of  Medaglia d' Oro checked out her waterer and then had some hay.



Taking in her surroundings. Order This Photo


"She had a long campaign, so the goal was to build her back up before we sent her back to Hollendorfer," said Ceballos.



The champ. Order This Photo


As her stay concludes at WinStar, plans for Songbird's 2017 campaign have been outlined by Porter. For more on her 2017 plans click here to read Claire Novak's recent interview.


"We are truly blessed that Mr. Hollendorfer and Mr. Porter once again entrusted us with this filly," said Heath.


Also a finalist for Horse of the Year honors, plans are for Songbird to return to California in late January.


Special thanks to Rick Porter and Victoria Keith of Fox Hill Farm, and to Team WinStar for the opportunity to spend time with and photograph Songbird.


For more images of Songbird's sabbatical click here to visit the BloodHorse Photostore. 

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