October 27, 2021

Bird Song retired from racing

Bird Song led all the way home under jockey Julien Leparoux in the Alysheba (G2) at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 5, 2017 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Marylou Whitney’s Grade 2-winning homebred Bird Song has been retired, trainer Ian Wilkes announced.

“He’s been a special horse to us on the racetrack,” Wilkes said. “He’s retired happy, healthy and sound so that’s really what’s most important in this game.

“I still don’t think we saw his full potential,” the horseman added. “This horse has won at all distances throughout his career. He was very versatile on the track.”

Bird Song ran up a 5-2-1 record from 14 career starts, including triumphs in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba Stakes (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs and the March 4 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) going a mile at Gulfstream Park. The four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song also placed in a pair of Grade 3 contests, the nine-furlong Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland on April 15 and one-mile Hal’s Hope Stakes to open his 2017 campaign on January 14 at Gulfstream.

“As Marylou and I said, the horse gave us everything and owes us nothing,” said John Hendrickson, husband of Marylou Whitney. “We were delighted to have a multiple graded stakes winner out of a champion. What more could you hope for? He’s a beautiful animal and he gave us a lot of highs and probably the top of it was his win in the Alysheba.”

Bird Song banked $512,707 during his time on track, but has been unplaced in his past three starts. His last race came as a last-of-six run in the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park on September 23. The Kentucky-bred gray began his career at Keeneland on April 29, 2016, with a fifth-place effort and earned his first win on June 26, 2016, at Churchill Downs.

“We were sad, but we knew there was something up because his last performance wasn’t his normal self,” Hendrickson said. “But several farms are interested so hopefully he’ll land in a nice career. As we’ve always said, these horses don’t ask to be born so we owe it to all of our horses to take care of them.”

Bird Song is out of another Whiney homebred, the Cape Town mare Bird Town who was honored as the 2003 champion three-year-old filly after winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Acorn Stakes (G1).

Bird Town is a half-sister to 2004 Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) conqueror Birdstone, a successful stallion who has sired 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mine That Bird as well as 2009 champion three-year-old male and Belmont Stakes victor Summer Bird.