Bird Song Filly Flies Away with Schuylerville in Whitney Colors

Pretty Birdie | Sarah Andrew

Pretty Birdie, the first and only winner thus far from just 22 first-crop foals for his already expatriated sire (by Unbridled's Song), zipped to the front and ran them off their feet to take Thursday's GIII Schuylerville S. at the Spa in the silks of the late Saratoga legend Marylou Whitney.

The grey had earned a field's-best 78 Beyer Speed Figure for a clear debut score at Churchill June 18, and was backed as the second choice behind 'TDN Rising Star' Mainstay, the half-sister to last year's champion 2-year-old filly Vequist (Nyquist) who aired on debut at Monmouth.

Clearing off by a few lengths after breaking from the rail, Pretty Birdie was pursued by Mainstay through splits of :22.29 and :45.82. The leader never switched her leads, and Mainstay got a bit green late herself, as Pretty Birdie found the wire two lengths to the good.

“It means so much. The smiling faces and having Saratoga back the way it should be and having a win. It's very special,” said Whitney's widower John Hendrickson. “This is where she felt the most alive. This is the way she is alive and she has a win on opening day. It's pretty special. This is a dream come true for me and Marylou. Things getting back to normal and winning on Opening Day, she's throwing a party. She said 'I want to race, get back to work.'”

Trainer Norm Casse's first graded stakes win also came for Whitney, just a month before she died, with Hard Legacy (Hard Spun) in the 2019 GIII Regret S.

“I feel like she was a little more green today,” the son of Hall of Famer Mark Casse said. “She didn't want to switch leads down the lane. I was a little bit concerned about that as she was finishing, but I think that was just her seeing a new place. This was the first time she had even come over here. I kept her on the Oklahoma [training track] side the entire week she's been here… I think she was just gawking around and maybe even waiting on the other horse. Those are things we'll fix before we run her in the [Sept. 5 GI] Spinaway next.”

As for the importance of winning this race for this owner, Casse said, “I put a lot of pressure on myself today. I thought this was the story of the day. If we could win the race for Marylou Whitney and John today with Saratoga opening back up, that it would mean the world for a lot of people and thankfully, Pretty Birdie delivered for us… Most of the time in horse racing it doesn't work out the way you hope, but today it did.”

Thursday, Saratoga
SCHUYLERVILLE S.-GIII, $150,000, Saratoga, 7-15, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:12.32, ft.
1–PRETTY BIRDIE, 120, f, 2, by Bird Song
                1st Dam: Bird Sense, by Street Sense
                2nd Dam: Bird Harbor, by Boston Harbor
                3rd Dam: Dearest Gulch, by Gulch
Whitney Stables (Hendrickson); B-Marylou Whitney Stables
LLC (KY); T-Norm W. Casse; J-Luis Saez. $82,500. Lifetime
Record: 2-2-0-0, $139,988. *First SW for freshman sire. Werk Nick Rating: C+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Mainstay, 120, f, 2, Astern (Aus)–Vero Amore, by Mineshaft.
'TDN Rising Star' O-Swilcan Stable LLC & LC Racing; B-Swilcan
Stables (KY); T-Robert E. Reid, Jr. $30,000.
3–Saucy Lady T, 120, f, 2, Tonalist–Fila Primera, by War Front.
($5,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-James K. Chapman & Stuart
Tsujimoto; B-R. S. Evans (KY); T-James K. Chapman. $18,000.
Margins: 2, 5 1/4, 8HF. Odds: 2.80, 1.30, 18.10.
Also Ran: Velvet Sister, Cartel Queen, Eagle Express, Queen Camilla. Scratched: Happy Soul, Pipeline Girl. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

Pedigree Notes:

Pretty Birdie is a product of the Whitney program top and bottom. Bird Song took the 2017 GIII Fred Hooper S. and GII Alysheba S. in the eton blue and brown, and is out of 2003 GI Kentucky Oaks heroine and champion 3-year-old filly Bird Town (Cape Town). Bird Song, who began his stud career at Gainesway, was exported to Saudi Arabia before this past breeding season.

Two-time winner Bird Sense, meanwhile, counts Broodmare of the Year Dear Birdie (Storm Bird)–the dam of both Bird Town and GI Belmont S./GI Travers S. hero Birdstone (Grindstone)–as her third dam.

“She's inbred to Dear Birdie 3×4,” Noted Hendrickson. “That broodmare has proved successful for us again. She produced Bird Town and Birdstone.”

Bird Sense produced a full brother to Pretty Birdie in January before being bred back to Far From Over.

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