LOUISVILLE, KY – Charles E. Fipke’s 5-year-old homebred mare Forever Unbridled scored an ideal, come-from-behind, 1 3/4-length victory in Saturday night’s 42nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by el Jimador at Churchill Downs.
It was Forever Unbridled’s first start since finishing third behind champions Beholder and Songbird in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.
Ridden by New York-based Joel Rosario for trainer Dallas Stewart, Forever Unbridled ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.94 to bank the $120,280 first prize and secure a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar on November 3. The race was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event.
“She’s a tremendous horse,” said Rosario. “I got her settled early, and when we went by the 1/2-mile pole, she was moving so easy. I just nudged her a bit and she took off. Dallas got her ready and did a tremendous job with her. To be able to ride a horse with this much class is such a blessing. I can’t wait for what’s next.”
Runner-up Apologynotaccepted attempted to wire the field of eight as she dictated terms through comfortable splits of :24.26, :48.71, and 1:12.32. Forever Unbridled settled, saved ground, and trailed by 8 1/2 lengths through the first 4 furlongs. Rosario worked her off of the inside for clear sailing, ranged up four-wide on the final turn with ease. and reeled in Apologynotaccepted with 1/8 of a mile to run under a hand ride.
“Now that is what you call a racehorse,” said Stewart. “How lucky are we to have such an unbelievable horse like this in our barn? I told Joel to get her settled early and keep her out of trouble. He was barely moving on her and she won easily. We just need to keep her happy and healthy, and we’ll have her ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Carrubma was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third. Big World, Tiger Moth, Weep No More, Walkabout, and Romantic Vision completed the order of finish. Crooked Stick was scratched.
Forever Unbridled improved her record to 6-3-4 in 15 starts with earnings of $1,711,880.
The Fleur de Lis – which means “Flower of the Lily” and honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s flag – marked Forever Unbridled’s first start since undergoing surgery to remove a bone chip from her left front ankle after the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Unbridled Song and 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever had an outstanding 4-year-old campaign with Grade 1 wins in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park and $400,000 Beldame at Belmont Park.
Forever Unbridled returned $4.20, $3, and $2.40. Apologynotaccepted brought back $8.20 and $5.40, while Carrumba paid $3.60.
Additional Race Quotes
Jockey Luis Saez, Apologynotaccepted: “She ran her race. When we got into the stretch like that, I thought we were going to be OK. The 1 was a little bit tough and got (us) in the end.”
Jockey John Velazquez, Carrumba: “I thought she would run well. I think she can do better than that.”
Assistant Trainer Reeve McGaughey, Carrumba: “She had a perfect trip, no real excuse. She did well to run and finish up for third, but no major excuse.”