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Stakes Advance: Untapable, Unbridled Forever Set for Face-Off in FG Oaks
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Untapable, much the best when dominating rivals by 9 ½-lengths in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes here Feb. 22, may be faced with a more difficult task when she meets Charles Fipke’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes star Unbridled Forever, whose connections passed on that middle leg of that three-race sophomore fillies series in favor of Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day.
Five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, run one day before the Kentucky Derby, underlying the importanceof this premiere New Orleans event for 3-year-old members of the distaff set. Significantly, Untapable and Unbridled Forever were the first and third choices respectively in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
Untapable, trained by Steve Asmussen, is the currently-active sole leader in points toward the Kentucky Oaks. Unbridled Forever is a foal out of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever. Veteran trainer Dallas Stewart, born in McComb, Mississippi, has handled the careers of both mother and daughter.
Untapable will be ridden by three-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Rosie Napravnik and break from the rail while Unbridled Forever, who will break from the outside in the five-horse field, has the riding services of Robby Albarado, the only jockey in Fair Grounds history to have won seven riding titles in the Crescent City.
In spite of the attractive Untapable-Unbridled Forever match up, the Kentucky Oaks could be more than a two-horse race. The late Clarence Scharbauer Jr’s Fiftyshadeofgold, trained by Bret Calhoun, was undefeated as a juvenile until victimized by a rough trip in Saratoga’s Grade II Adirondack Stakes where she was advanced through a disqualification. Fiftyshadesofgold returned as a winner this season in Sam Houston’s $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes, scoring by 2 ½-lengths while less than fully extended. The Texas-bred gray filly will break from the #3 post under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
Fox Hill Farms’ Mary Rita, a late-developing daughter of Distorted Humor, broke her maiden here Jan 25 and advanced out of the her next condition Feb. 21 with a 1 ¾-length score.. Larry Jones is the trainer. Kerwin Clark is the rider for Mary Rita and she will break from post #2.
A surprising supplementary nomination to the Fair Grounds Oaks was made by trainer Wes Hawley on behalf of Dan Brown and Wes Hawley’s Artist Cry. She isa Louisiana-bred filly who has won all three of her starts this year over the Stall-Wilson turf course in restricted company and will leave from the #4 post.