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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Mike Smith has ridden some of the best female horses of all time -- four, in fact, who are in the Hall of Fame, including Zenyatta, whose induction takes place in less than three weeks.Smith, a Hall of Famer himself and still going strong at age 50, has found another fabulous filly in Songbird, who is undefeated in eight career starts. She will put that streak on the line Sunday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga, where she will meet four rivals, including Grade 1 winners Carina Mia and Weep No More.Songbird has won her eight starts by a combined 42 1/2 lengths. Shes done it with breathtaking ease, eliciting comparisons to some of the best Smith has ridden. That list includes champions and Hall of Famers Azeri, an 11-time Grade 1 winner; Inside Information, a six-time Grade 1 winner; Sky Beauty, a nine-time Grade 1 winner; and Zenyatta, a 13-time Grade 1 winner.The comparisons, however, are coming from other Hall of Fame riders. Smith said hes heard from retired jockeys Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Jerry Bailey, and Jacinto Vasquez -- the regular rider of the brilliant Ruffian -- to talk Songbird.I had the best of the best riders call me after shes run, a lot of them retired, saying she might be the best filly theyve ever seen, Smith said in a recent interview. I had Pat Day call me out of the blue one day and say, Is she really that good? Chris McCarron has come out and said, She might be better than any of them youve ridden.Since Songbird is just midway through her 3-year-old season, its understandable that Smith stops short of putting her in the elite category. For now.She still has a lot to prove to get to not just one of them but several of them, Smith said. Ive been that blessed to have ridden that many good fillies. Ive ridden some fillies that in their time, they were just unbeatable as far as fillies are concerned. I mean, no one was going to beat Sky Beauty in her time. No one was going to beat Inside Information in her time. No one was going to beat Jersey Girl when she was good - people forget about her. No one was going to beat Azeri, and no one was definitely going to beat Zenyatta. They were just all that good in their time.Smith himself brought up how difficult a decision it would be if, in their prime, that group met in a race.Just because Ive been on them doesnt mean Im going to pick the right one, Smith said. You get a little sentimental about this or that, and the next thing you know, youve taken off the wrong horse. I mean, how many times have we done that? Over and over again.Smith doesnt have a difficult time discussing what makes Songbird so good.Shes extremely intelligent -- shes really, really a smart filly, Smith said. Man, you show her one time, and shes got it, and she just gets better at it, and thats been from Day 1. Every work was better, every race was better, the way she handled it, and shes just extremely talented. So well balanced, her mechanics, theres no wasted action. What she does thats the norm for her is very difficult, it seems like, for other fillies, which is mechanics, which is the way she does things. She just gets over the ground so effortless.Songbird, a daughter of Medaglia dOro trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Rick Porters Fox Hill Farm, won her first seven races on the lead. In her most recent start, the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on June 18, she stalked the filly Bellamentary, ridden by Martin Garcia, for a few furlongs before taking control.Last time, they thought, Well, were going to get in front of her; well show her, Smith said. That was the best thing that ever happened. I was telling Martin, Go ahead, I dont want to be here. I wanted to be farther back.Smith said he wouldnt mind seeing Songbird rate again Sunday, but its hard to imagine any of her four rivals being able to outrun her early.Id love for someone to get in front of her, Smith said. Theyre just going to have to run a little quicker than 45 [seconds] to do it.Songbird arrived at Saratoga on Wednesday night following a flight from Southern California that made stops in Denver and Lexington, Ky. The flight was delayed from Ontario Airport near Los Angeles because another horse acted up and needed to be unloaded. Songbird arrived at Saratoga just before 8 p.m. Eastern.On Thursday, Songbird was on the track at 5:40 a.m. for a 1-1/8-mile jog.Shes feeling good, said Christina Jelm, who was overseeing Songbird here before Hollendorfer arrived Thursday afternoon. Usually when we ship, well jog the next day, but you want to make sure they eat their food and their temperatures good, so its just better to say, Lets make our final decision in the morning. Everything went perfect. She ate up, she was happy, with her head out [of the stall] in the morning, so Jerry said, Go to the track.Smith, who was the leading rider at Saratoga from 1991-93, said hes looking forward to Songbird performing before an East Coast crowd.I cant wait, he said. Just to show her to different people. I think racing certainly deserves it; true fans certainly deserve it. Its cool. Swell Bottle Sale 17 Oz . -- Gus Malzahn finally had his day in Fayetteville. Swell Wood Bottle Sale .C. at the helm of the top team in the Eastern Conference. His tenure as the GM in Vancouver was all too brief. Though he led the Canucks to what was then a franchise record-shattering campaign in just his second season, Nonis was gone and replaced one year later. http://www.swellbottlesaleclearance.com/ .R. Smith realized how easily basketball can be taken from him, and he wasnt going to take his place in the NBA for granted anymore. Swell Water Bottle Canada . Thats not a comment on the suspension that banished the Portland Winterhawks general manager and coach from his Western Hockey League teams bench for most of the 2012-13 season. Swell Bottle Black Canada . -- Adam Snyder returned to the San Francisco 49ers this season because the offensive lineman thought it was his best opportunity to win a championship. ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Hendricks was so good Monday night he even surprised himself.The right-hander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before giving up Jeremy Hazelbakers leadoff home run, and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 to close in on the NL Central crown.I never thought Id get that close to one, Hendricks said. A guy who throws to contact and doesnt throw hard, you dont think about it. You can run into one of those special days and you think, why not?My pregame bullpen was probably the worst Ive had all year. Hopefully it clicks once the game starts, and it did.All the way until the ninth inning.Hazelbaker drove an 0-2 pitch into the right-field stands for his 12th homer before Hendricks (15-7), the major league ERA leader at 2.03, was relieved by Aroldis Chapman.If youre going to give it up, at least its that way and not a cheap hit, Hendricks said. I just left the ball up and he got it. It was just a changeup and I wanted to throw it in the dirt and get him to chase.Hazelbaker was looking for a changeup.I wasnt surprised by it, he said. Hed been throwing that pitch all night. It was a good pitch he threw me. I was able to handle it like I wanted to.Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler homered for the Cubs, who lowered their magic number to three for clinching the division crown. They lead the second-place Cardinals by 17 games and can wrap up the NL Central with a three-game sweep in St. Louis.The Cardinals remained a half-game behind the Mets for the leagues second wild card. New York lost 8-1 at Washington.Soon after Hazelbakers shot cleared the fence, teammates went to the mound to talk to Hendricks -- leading to an animated argument between Cubs manager Joe Maddon and plate umpire Joe West.Maddon was ejected for the third time this season, and Chapman entered to finish the one-hitter. He got three outs for his 14th save with Chicago, and is 34 for 37 overall this year with the Cubs and Yankees.After the pitching change, Maddon argued some more with West before leaving.It was a misinterpretation there, Maddon said. We needed more time there. I needed the catcher to go to the mound. We were denied. I made my stand.I truly believe I was proper in that, but this is not about that. This is Kyles night.Hendricks, who threw 96 pitches, struck out seven and walked two.Pretty special night all around, he said. It was fun, man.It was the fourth no-hit bid broken up in the ninth inning this season. Cubs teammate Jaake Arrieta tossed the lone no-hitter in the majors this year, winning 16-0 at Cincinnati on April 21.ddddddddddddHendricks got some help from his defense, especially in the sixth.Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, deep in the hole, went to his knees on the outfield grass for a sliding stop of Jhonny Peraltas sharp grounder and made a strong throw to first.Right fielder Jason Heyward then reached into the stands to catch Hazelbakers foul fly, practically wrestling with a fan in a Cardinals jersey for the ball.He was unbelievably great, Maddon said about Hendricks. Unfortunately, he didnt get the no-hitter. They didnt have good swings against him all night. He was in charge the entire game. It was a spectacular performance. Kyle was the star.Hendricks control made him tough to hit, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.He was pushing the corners all day long and hes been doing that most of the season and didnt give us a whole lot, Matheny said.Mike Leake (9-10) pitched six innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter. Leake, making his second start since a stint on the disabled list due to shingles, allowed six hits and four runs (three earned).Anthony Rizzo had an RBI single for the Cubs.The last time the Cubs won a division title was 2008. They did it by beating St. Louis on Sept. 20 at Wrigley Field.TRAINERS ROOMCardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (right shoulder) threw batting practice to Brayan Pena, Jose Martinez and Alberto Rosario. Wacha said he hopes to come off the disabled list Wednesday. ... LF Matt Holliday took batting practice on the field for the first time since breaking his right thumb Aug. 11 against the Cubs. ... Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh, who has 17 saves and a 1.87 ERA, was unavailable Saturday and Sunday against Milwaukee because of a sore groin. Speaking through translator Eugene Koo, the reliever said he would not be available Monday but should be Tuesday.UP NEXTCardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (10-12, 4.58 ERA) makes his 29th start of the season Tuesday night, his most since 2011 when he made 32. He has started seven games against the Cubs and is 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA.Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel (14-8, 3.50) allowed nine runs -- eight earned -- and a career-high 13 hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 12-5 loss at Milwaukee last time out. He is 4-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 10 starts against the Cardinals. ' ' '

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