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Two-time champion Songbird retired

DEL MAR, Calif. -- Two-time champion Songbird was retired Thursday after initial medical tests showed enlarged suspensories in her hind end and subsequent tests revealed greater physical problems, owner Rick Porter announced.

Porter made the announcement on Facebook. The decision to end Songbird's career comes days after she finished second to Forever Unbridled in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes on Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

Following that race, Songbird was sent to the Rood and Riddle veterinary clinic in Lexington, Ky., where she underwent an evaluation by veterinarian Larry Bramlage.

"Her lameness was readily apparent to Dr. Bramlage, and ultrasounds proved both hind suspensories were enlarged," Porter wrote on Facebook. "Since suspensories are usually the result of something else amiss and he knew of her history, Dr. Bramlage shot a set of X-rays of the area of bone Songbird had issues with over the winter. A distinct line on the bone was present. We followed up with a bone scan, and then an MRI.

"Unfortunately, the results weren't what we wanted to see. We have a situation where it'd be dangerous for Songbird to continue training, and Dr. Bramlage isn't optimistic that the site will fully resolve even if given ample time."

Porter said Songbird had minor physical ailments in the past. He said she sustained bone bruising from racing in 2016 and "a specific area was slow to heal."

The Personal Ensign Stakes was Songbird's third race and first loss of the year. She won two Grade 1 races earlier this year by a length each - the Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10 and the Delaware Handicap on July 15.

In the Personal Ensign at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, Songbird led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining and was caught in the final strides by Forever Unbridled, who won by a neck.

"The three races from Songbird this year weren't what we expected from the bigger, stronger, and smarter Songbird," Porter wrote Thursday.

Songbird, 4, won 13 of 15 starts and earned $4,692,000. By Medaglia d'Oro, Songbird was the champion 2-year-old filly of 2015 and champion 3-year-old filly of 2016. She was trained by Jerry Hollendorfer throughout her career.

Purchased for $400,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, Songbird won her first 11 starts. She won nine Grade 1 races in her career, including the 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

At 3 last year, Songbird won her first three starts, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. She missed an expected start in the Kentucky Oaks because of illness, but resumed racing that summer and won her next four starts, including the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

Songbird was beaten for the first time in her career in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita last November, finishing a nose behind four-time champion Beholder in her final start of the year. She resumed training with Hollendorfer in late winter at Santa Anita.

"She meant a lot to every person in the barn," Hollendorfer said Thursday in the Del Mar stables.

Hollendorfer said Songbird will be sent to Taylor Made Farm in coming days. Porter indicated Songbird is expected to be sold at the Fasig-Tipton November sale.

She was one of the finest fillies to race in the last decade.

"They analyzed a lot of information and decided they didn't want to run her again," Hollendorfer said. "She never disappointed us in any of her races. I feel fortunate to have trained her."

-- additional reporting by Joe Nevills