Updated on 05/03/2014 11:48PM

Kentucky Oaks: Untapable dominates despite wide trip

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Barbara D. Livingston
Untapable, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, wins the Kentucky Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths as the even-money favorite Friday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Untapable separated herself from all the other 3-year-old fillies in the land when carrying Rosie Napravnik to a 4 1/2-length victory in near-record time Friday in the 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

Always in a comfortable stalking spot after breaking cleanly from the outside post in a field of 12, Untapable moved up smoothly to challenge nearing the quarter pole before quickly establishing herself as far superior, finishing in 1:48.68, the second-fastest time in race history. She returned $4 as the solid favorite.

“She was magnificent,” said Napravnik, who won the Oaks for the second time, having become the first female jockey to win an Oaks in 2012 aboard Believe You Can.

My Miss Sophia finished second, six lengths before Unbridled Forever in a spread-out field. Rosalind was up late to get fourth over Thank You Marylou.

The winning time was just off the Oaks record of 1:48.64 set in 2003 by Bird Town.

Untapable, by the red-hot sire Tapit, is a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred trained by Steve Asmussen. The bay filly was coming off back-to-back victories at Fair Grounds, the latest being the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks, a race that has produced a remarkable six of the last 11 winners of the Kentucky Oaks.

“I was so happy to see her show who she is on this stage,” said Asmussen, who has been under a microscope since a controversial video by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was revealed this year. “Under the circumstances, this couldn’t mean more.”

Winchell and Asmussen teamed once before to win the Oaks with Summerly in 2005.

Under cloudy skies and amid unseasonably cool temperatures, Untapable was just a few paths wide while securing a good early position behind the pacesetter, Sugar Shock, as My Miss Sophia gave the leader closest chase. Into the far turn, My Miss Sophia overtook Sugar Shock first, but Untapable loomed boldly with easy, menacing strides to her outside.

Leaving the quarter pole, there was little doubt who was best, as Untapable glided away to her fifth triumph from seven career starts. The $576,600 winner’s share lifted her career earnings to $1,124,725.

“We broke sharp and had the perfect conditions,” said Napravnik, a 26-year-old New Jersey native who has been a leading jockey in Maryland, Louisiana, and Kentucky. “She was really great. I wasn’t worried about [the outside] post position like so many other people were. She ran her race. She’s learned to relax. She’s matured. She’s growing up.”

In regard to winning the Oaks for a second time, Napravnik said: “This will go down as one of my greatest moments. I have so many women out there pulling for me ... it’s really inspiring to me. It really makes me feel great.”

Asmussen, who trained Rachel Alexandra to win the 2009 Horse of the Year award after that filly set an Oaks record with a 20 1/4-length triumph, said he was flattered that Untapable is starting to be compared with Rachel Alexandra.

“It’s a good thing that people are starting to ask that question,” he said. “We want everyone to feel about Untapable the way we do.”

Asmussen said he would not consider a possible run against male rivals in the May 17 Preakness for Untapable until after Saturday, when he and Winchell will be running Tapiture in the Kentucky Derby. Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness off her Oaks score.

After the top five, the Oaks order was Ria Antonia, Got Lucky, Sugar Shock, Aurelia’s Belle, Please Explain, Fashion Plate, and Kiss Moon.

My Miss Sophia, ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer Todd Pletcher, had no excuses when easily second-best.

Fashion Plate, a wire-to-wire winner of the Grade 1 Las Virgenes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in her two prior starts, was never a factor after acting up in the gate and breaking awkwardly.

Empress of Midway, who was 56-1 at the time, was scratched at the gate after acting up badly and temporarily becoming cast. Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said the decision to scratch the filly was mostly a precautionary measure. “By all outward appearances, she’s fine,” said Bramlage.

The $2 exacta (13-11) paid $21.80, the $1 trifecta (13-11-9) returned $89.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (13-11-9-4) was worth $29.89.

Untapable returned $12 to win as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which ran Feb. 27 to March 1. The $2 exacta combination (23-24) using Untapable over a field horse (My Miss Sophia) was $48.40.

Ontrack attendance was 113,071, the third-highest in event history.