04/15/2016 7:12PM

Forever Unbridled gets her Grade 1 win in Apple Blossom

Coady Photography
Forever Unbridled, with John Velazquez aboard, wins the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths Friday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Forever Unbridled became the Grade 1 winner her connections thought she had the potential to become on Friday, when she finished with a flourish for a 2 1/4-length win over Streamline in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

“She’s the real deal,” said winning trainer Dallas Stewart.

Forever Unbridled ($10.40) won her third consecutive race, following the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct in November and the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston in January. She defeated a field that included the champion Untapable, who set the pace and finished fourth, and Call Pat, the winner of the meet’s first two graded route races for fillies and mares who finished sixth on Friday.  

The Apple Blossom continued the $3.75 million Racing Festival of the South, which will wrap up Saturday when the Oaklawn meet closes with the Arkansas Derby. The Apple Blossom and Arkansas Derby are the lone Grade 1 offerings in the Mid-South region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

Forever Unbridled was content to settle just off the pace as Untapable took the field through an opening quarter in 24.06 seconds, a half-mile in 48.10, and six furlongs in 1:12.45, pushed along by Streamline. In the stretch, Streamline took the lead, but Forever Unbridled worked past that one and went on to cover the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.08.

“We got a nice position into the first turn once I got her to the outside,” said winning rider John Velazquez. “She was in the bridle the whole way around. I wanted to put a little pressure on [Streamline] so she’d put a little pressure on [Untapable]. I know she’s a nice horse, and we didn't want to let them go too easy either.”

Velazquez also rode Forever Unbridled in the Comely.

“She’s a filly that gets better and better with each start,” he said. “I’m glad I got to ride her today.”

Florent Geroux was aboard Untapable, who was making her second start of the year Friday.

“I made the lead, and it wasn’t what I really wanted to do, but it is how the race unfolded,” he said.

Forever Unbridled races for her breeder, Charles Fipke, and is out of the Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, who was trained by Stewart. Forever Unbridled is a full sister to Unbridled Forever, a Grade 1 winner and earner of $805,257 for Fipke and Stewart.

The Apple Blossom became the target for Forever Unbridled after she won the Houston Ladies Classic on Jan. 30, and spacing her races will continue to be a theme for the filly, whose likely next objective is the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps on June 11 at Belmont Park, said Stewart.  

“Chuck said, ‘Let’s be patient with her, work from the Breeders’ Cup on back,” Stewart said. “This was the one race 70-something days or so since Houston we were looking at. Now, we’re going to go forward, probably three or four more races left in the year, plus the Breeders’ Cup.”

Stewart said for the immediate future, Forever Unbridled will head to Kentucky.

Forever Unbridled earned $360,000 for the win in the Apple Blossom. She has now won four of 10 starts and $911,600. Forever Unbridled is a daughter of Unbridled’s Song and was bred in Kentucky.

Tara’s Tango finished third in the Apple Blossom, 1 1/4 lengths behind Streamline. It was a head farther back to Untapable in fourth, and she was followed by Theogony and Call Pat.