03/14/2015 6:53PM

Gold Medal Dancer holds off Untapable to win Azeri

Coady Photography
Gold Medal Dancer wins the Azeri Stakes by a half-length Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Everything seemed to be going as it should Saturday in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park until Gold Medal Dancer did the unexpected.

Jockey John Velazquez and the 1-9 favorite Untapable tracked front-running Gold Medal Dancer through pedestrian fractions of 24.66 and 48.98 seconds over the “good,” sealed track. They moved up outside Gold Medal Dancer on the far turn, and the two horses passed the quarter pole as a team with Velazquez confidently handling Untapable.

That’s as close as Untapable ever got. Gold Medal Dancer dug in under jockey Luis Quinonez and eased away through the final furlong to win by a half-length.

The win was the first in a graded stakes for Gold Medal Dancer, a 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro bred and owned by the Pin Oak Stud of Josephine Abercrombie and trained by Donnie Von Hemel.

“It looked like we had a chance to get out and control the race, and Luis did a great job,” Von Hemel said after the race. He indicated that Gold Medal Dancer now would be pointed to the Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 10.

Untapable came into the Azeri with six wins in her last seven starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff over older rivals last October. Untapable’s one loss last season came to the eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern in the Haskell Invitational. She was voted the champion 3-year-old filly of 2014.

The Azeri was her first race since the Breeders’ Cup, and it did not come under the best conditions with the track wet after rain Thursday and Friday.

“We were a little concerned, not getting a chance to come up and breeze over the racetrack because of the weather,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “The going's kind of heavy, and obviously it's a concern off the layoff.”

Asmussen said Untapable would remain at Oaklawn to train for a short while and that the Apple Blossom was not out of the question for her.

“If she comes out of it well, I think there's a tremendous amount of reasons for her to move forward,” Asmussen said.

Mufajaah finished third in the Azeri, 2 1/2 lengths behind Untapable. Mufajaah dropped far off the early pace and launched a three-wide move on the far turn but could not gain on the top pair in the final furlong.

Gold Medal Dancer paid $18.80 as the third choice in the five-horse field. She was timed in 1:45.92 after fractions of 1:13.85 and 1:39.37.

Gold Medal Dancer now has won 7 of 16 career starts and $529,000.

Trainer Doug Anderson scratched Sugar Shock from the Azeri because he did not want to run her over a wet track, leaving a field of five. There was no show wagering on the race.

– additional reporting by Nicole Russo

William Pietschman More than 1 year ago
untapable wanted to run but the jock ,early on ,checked her a few times..and was outside all the way around...like the way the mufajaah ran and will be better over a longer distance against these and will win...lol..
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Rachel Alexandra was a few steps slower after her 3yr old campaign for asmussen. Hopefully this isn't the same situation
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
My hats off to Gold Medal Dancer. Watching the race live I could clearly see they GMD was walking on the lead, but Johnny V. knew that and he was so close it was obvious he was doing the right thing. I thought Johnny V. gave Untapable a great ride. U came up on GMD and we all thought she'd go by....but, GMD dug in. This is why this sport is so great. You just never know. Speed wins races and if left alone on the lead....we all see what can happen. Hopefully, Untapable comes out of the race good. She is a monster. By the way, am I the only one that notices that these Tapit's all can run great, but, sometimes they tend to wait a bit in the stretch and not go by the leader. Now, I'm not saying Untapable did that. She is a monster. But, seriously, you ever notice that a lot of young Tapit's in straight maiden races go off the favorite and run and look the best a lot of times, but tend to run 2nd more than once before breaking their maiden. I don't know, maybe it's just me. Good luck all.
Michael Deinlein More than 1 year ago
Even though it was Untapable's first start of the season she towered over this field and ran terrible. You are the reigning champion filly, won 4 or the last 5 grade 1's you ran in, 5 of your last 7 races were over 100 Beyers and you were running against mediocre competition. It was just poor all around! Champions should perform like champions.
Ryan Cale More than 1 year ago
Everyone who follows horse racing even a little knows that putting JV (and so many others) on a 1/9 shot is like putting another 20lbs on the horse's back. I knew this and bet the winner and still couldn't stand to watch. It's one of the many reasons horse racing is no longer a sport and has very few fans left...and almost no new ones. Phony damage control / disinformation like the 'Frank' comment above just makes it all the more obvious. If a horse gets too good and odds get too low, the horse goes off-form or the competition runs the race of a lifetime. And since almost all the pros care only about the gambling and not at all about the sport, what's left is a soon-to-be-defunct form of gambling that isn't sporting at all. To me it's sad even when I win money because of it, like today.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
I guess your theory about "horses who get woo good and odds get too low" explain how Shared Belief, Wise Dan, and Dortmund continue to win at short odds. Guess "they" just haven't gotten to the connections and fixed the races just yet...
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
I thought Johnnie should've went for the lead, but that just my opinion.
mrbascum More than 1 year ago
A wise man once told me "there is no such thing as a sure thing" I never forgot that and neither should you.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
another wise man said " don't play a suckers game full of CORRUPTION".
mrbascum More than 1 year ago
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
This filly did not lose, Velasquez got her beat. He's got hands of lead.
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
I guess Rosie not to bad after all
John Jp More than 1 year ago
Those led hands took him right to the hall of fame.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And THAT was a Hall of Fame ride?
James P More than 1 year ago
She had every opportunity to run past the winner.