Tuesday, August 29, 2017
2016 Apple Blossom winner Forever Unbridled came flying down the stretch late to just catch champion Songbird at the wire and win the $700,000 Personal Ensign stakes at Saratoga. It was her second straight victory in a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff; Horses that have raced at Oaklawn over the last two years are currently in five of the 10 spots in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Poll.
Apple Blossom winner Forever Unbridled Upsets Champion Songbird at Saratoga
Forever Unbridled earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 98 for her measured neck victory over two-time Eclipse Award winner Songbird in the $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) Saturday at Saratoga.
Forever Unbridled became the second horse in the last four years to capture the Personal Ensign after winning Oaklawn’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), among the country’s most prestigious events for older fillies and mares. Close Hatches won the Apple Blossom and Personal Ensign in 2014 en route to an Eclipse Award as champion older female.
Forever Unbridled won the 2016 Apple Blossom – her first career Grade 1 victory – for owner/breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart.
Ridden Saturday by Joel Rosario, Forever Unbridled covered 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:49.16 and paid $6.20 as the second choice in the four-horse field. The top two finishers both carried 123 pounds.
Eskenformoney, runner-up in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 18 at Oaklawn, finished third, 4 ½ lengths behind Songbird, who suffered only her second career defeat. Songbird was the country's champion 2-year-old filly of 2015 and champion 3-year-old filly of 2016.
Forever Unbridled, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song, raised her career earnings to $2,086,880 following her seventh victory from 16 starts. She is 2 for 2 this year, also taking the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) June 17 at Churchill Downs.
Forever Unbridled is the fourth consecutive Apple Blossom winner to surpass $2 million in career earnings, joining Close Hatches ($2,707,300), Untapable ($3,926,625) and Stellar Wind ($2,233,200).
Untapable was the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2014 and the 2015 Apple Blossom winner. Stellar Wind, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, won this year’s Apple Blossom.
Lemons Forever, the dam of Forever Unbridled, won an allowance/optional claimer as a 3-year-old at the 2006 Oaklawn meeting before finishing seventh in the Apple Blossom the following year.
The Apple Blossom has been raised to a record $700,000 for the 2018 Oaklawn meeting.
Five of a Kind
Oaklawn-raced horses hold five of the top 10 positions in this week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association Poll for horses of all ages released Monday.
Gun Runner (33 first-place votes and 382 points) is No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by No. 3 Collected (225 points), No. 5 Stellar Wind (211), No. 7 Mor Spirit (98) and No. 10 Forever Unbridled (72).
Gun Runner began his 4-year-old campaign with a runaway victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 20 at Oaklawn.
Collected finished fourth as the favorite in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds last year at Oaklawn.
Stellar Wind, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 14 at Oaklawn. Mor Spirit won the $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses March 18 at Oaklawn.
Forever Unbridled, who entered the NTRA poll this week, won the Apple Blossom in 2016.
Rankings are based on the votes of sports and thoroughbred racing media representatives, with points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last five years, won the $100,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes Sunday at Saratoga aboard Ginger N Rye for famed Sagamore Farm and trainer Horacio DePaz. Sagamore and DePaz teamed to win the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters April 13 at Oaklawn with Recruiting Ready. … Get Jets, fifth in his 3-year-old debut, an allowance/optional claimer at the 2016 Oaklawn meet, narrowly missed a course record in a half-length victory in the $150,000 West Point Stakes Friday at Saratoga. Get Jets covered a mile and a sixteenth over a firm course in 1:39.49 and paid $6.10 as the 2-1 favorite. The 1 1/16-record for the inner turf course is 1:39.07. Get Jets, a 4-year-old New York-bred son of Scat Daddy, won for the fifth time in 10 starts to raise his career earnings to $450,850 for Team D and trainer Tony Dutrow. The West Point was restricted to New York-breds. … Bronze Age, who beat stablemate and rising 3-year-old West Coast in a Feb. 18 maiden special weights event at Santa Anita, has been privately purchased by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, West Coast has won four consecutive starts, including the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) Saturday at Saratoga. Bronze Age, a 3-year-old son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, hasn’t started since finishing third in an April 29 allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita for Baffert and Juddmonte Farms. Alex Lieblong, who is chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, said Bronze Age is now at Churchill Downs with Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, a co-sixth in the Oaklawn trainer standings. The only other horse to beat West Coast in seven career starts this year is Senior Investment in the $200,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) April 15 at Keeneland. Senior Investment also won an allowance/optional claimer Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. ... American Anthem, 10th as the favorite in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 at Oaklawn, finished third in the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) Saturday at Saratoga. … Oaklawn-raced Beach Flower won the $50,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A. Distaff Stakes Saturday at Canterbury Park. … Oaklawn-raced Way Striking finished second in the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes Saturday at Canterbury.