11/03/2017 8:25PM

Forever Unbridled concludes perfect season with Breeders' Cup Distaff win

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Barbara D. Livingston
Forever Unbridled (right) prevailed by a half-length over Abel Tasman in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Friday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Is there anything Forever Unbridled cannot do?

It is a fair question following her Breeders’ Cup Distaff victory Friday at Del Mar.

In winning the Distaff by a half-length, Forever Unbridled ($9.40) has now won eight races on eight different tracks. Third last year in the Distaff, she won her first two starts this year including a victory over Songbird that sent that rival into retirement.

She pretty much does it all, and now Forever Unbridled holds the record for longest layoff by a Distaff winner. She was returning Friday from a 73-day layoff.

So maybe the question should be: What is left for Forever Unbridled to accomplish? Owner-breeder Charles Fipke was ready with an answer in a post-race interview.

“The Pegasus and then the Dubai [World] Cup,” Fipke cracked.

Everyone laughed, including trainer Dallas Stewart and jockey John Velasquez. Fipke sets lofty goals, and why not? Forever Unbridled, 5-years-old, is not done yet.

While pre-race attention focused mainly on favorite Elate and second choice Stellar Wind, none of the Distaff starters looked better physically than Forever Unbridled. She won the pre-race beauty contest, then went out and won the $2 million Distaff.

Forever Unbridled, a dappled-out daughter of Unbridled’s Song, rallied from sixth with a sweeping move on the far turn, hit the front at the top of the stretch, and held by a half-length over runner-up Abel Tasman. The final time of the race was a slow 1:50.25.

Forever Unbridled earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 in the Distaff.

Front-runner Paradise Woods, who pressed the pace, faded to finish third, three lengths behind Abel Tasman. Elate finished a length farther back in fourth without a visible alibi. The order of finish was completed by Mopotism, Champagne Room, Romantic Vision, and Stellar Wind.

Forever Unbridled was a fresh mare. The Distaff was just her third start of the season after arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip in her left front ankle. Fipke could have called it off and sent her to the breeding shed. Stewart was happy to have her back in his barn.

“Chuck [Fipke] was right about putting her back in training. He didn’t have to. He could have just retired her already a Grade 1 winner,” Stewart said. “He opted to bring her back, and the injury wasn’t bad and she was never sore. We brought her back and put her back in training and she’s so good when you space those races out. She’s the best I’ve trained.”

Forever Unbridled has now won eight races and $3,186,880 from 17 starts. Fipke said she will race next season as a 6-year-old.

Regarding the $16 million Pegasus on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park, Fipke reiterated the possibility. “We’re definitely going to be considering it. Yeah. That would be the goal.”

Two other 5-year-olds in the Distaff field will become broodmares. Stellar Wind will be sold next week at auction; Romantic Vision will retire, too, and is expected to be retained by owned G. Watts Humphrey.

Five others in the field are 3-year-olds, including Elate and Paradise Woods, and all are expected to return next year. Bill Mott, trainer of Elate, offered no alibis for her fourth-place finish.

“She was training great but she was a little dull today; a little flat. Maybe it’s just late in the year and she ran like she is just getting a little tired,” Mott said.

Paradise Woods’ trainer Richard Mandella said “she rated nice, she ran well. She’s a 3-year-old.”

Mandella added, tongue in cheek, “Next year, they won’t have a chance.”

Perhaps he is right. But next year, the Breeders’ Cup is at Churchill Downs.

That is home for Forever Unbridled, winner of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar.