Whicker: No retirement party for Songbird, but no tears either

  • Songbird takes the lead and wins the Santa Anita Oaks with jockey Mike Smith in the 7th race of the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9, 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

  • Songbird is shown before winning the Santa Anita Oaks with jockey Mike Smith in 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

  • Songbird wins the Santa Anita Oaks with jockey Mike Smith in 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

  • Songbird wins the Santa Anita Oaks with jockey Mike Smith in 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

  • Jockey Mike Smith atop Songbird wins the $200,000 Summertime Oaks during horse racing at Santa Anita in 2016. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

  • Songbird merchandise for sale during horse racing at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Saturday, June 18, 2016. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

  • Songbird and jockey Mike Smith return after Beholder and jockey Gary Stevens win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff in a photo finish at Santa Anita. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Beholder and jockey Gary Stevens, left, win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff in a photo finish with Songbird and jockey Mike Smith in 2016 at Santa Anita. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Jockey Mike Smith smiles in the winner’s circle after riding Songbird to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Racecourse in 2015. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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It wasn’t good news, not exactly. But Mike Smith wasn’t singing the blues.

Songbird retired at age 4 on Thursday. Doctors found problems with her “hind suspensories,” and owner Rick Porter asked Dr. Larry Bramlage for further tests.

They saw a line in a bone in her leg, and when Bramlage did an MRI he still had doubts.

So Smith will need another horse to ride in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar in November.

Songbird won’t race that day.

Or ever again.

Fans are insatiable, of course. They demand more than athletes can give. Songbird will not have a goodbye race and did not retire off a win. She was overtaken by Unbridled Forever at the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

That was her second runnerup finish. Her first was in last year’s Disatff at Santa Anita, when she and Beholder thundered down the stretch in unison, the most urgent duel between champion horses that any of us are likely to see, an exhibition of talent in flight that neither Smith nor Gary Stevens, on Beholder,…

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