03/06/2017 12:36PM

Sparkman: Unbridled's Song in the hunt for pair of sire titles

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Emily Shields
Unique Bella, out of Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled's Song, wins the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

If Arrogate continues his dominant parade through his principal remaining targets of 2017 he could easily earn $18 million to $20 million this year. With $7 million already in the bank and the $6 million first prize for the Dubai World Cup and about $3.5 million for another Breeders’ Cup Classic likely at his mercy, only a few more $1 million prep races would be required for him to earn more in one year than any horse in Thoroughbred history has earned in a career.

That would probably be enough to earn his sire, Unbridled’s Song, a well-deserved North American sire championship, especially if some of the 3-year-olds in his final crop – like Kentucky Derby prospect Battalion Runner – fulfill their promise and older horses like Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper winner Bird Song continue to rack up graded wins. That would end Tapit’s three-year-run as leading sire, but Gainesway’s gray stalwart will not go down easily, as he reminded everyone last weekend when the undefeated Unique Bella romped in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, Ticonderoga captured the Grade 3 Palm Beach, and Dream Dancing won the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride.

Arrogate is likely to make Distorted Humor, sire of Arrogate’s dam, Bubbler, leading broodmare sire as well, but if Unique Bella continues her winning ways, Unbridled’s Song could challenge for that title as well. Unique Bella is the second foal out of one of Unbridled’s Song’s best daughters, Unrivaled Belle, who counted the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic in 2010 among her six wins from 14 starts.

Bred in Kentucky by Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso, Unrivaled Belle was listed as purchased for $260,000 by Three Chimneys Farm, agent, at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale but raced for Seidler and Vegso. A gigantic filly in the mold of her super-sized sire, she was unraced at 2 but won 3 of 5 starts at 3 – including the listed Real Prize Stakes – and ran second in the Grade 1 Gazelle.

As a 4-year-old, she had finally grown into her immense frame, and she won the Grade 3 Rampart and Grade 2 La Troienne in the spring but then finished second in three straight Grade 1s before beating Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Unrivaled Belle ran twice at 5 without winning and retired with earnings of $1,854,706.

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Vegso and Seidler sold her that November at Keeneland for $2.8 million to Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable, who bred her first foal, the unraced Medaglia d’Oro filly Meseika; Unique Bella; and current 2-year-old filly Relicario, by Malibu Moon.

Brushwood sold Meseika at Keeneland for $320,000 to Qatar-based Al Shahania Stud, Unique Bella for $400,000 to Don Alberto Corp., and Relicario for $550,000 to Japan’s Northern Hills Co. Brushwood then sold Unrivaled Belle to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $3.8 million, in foal to Tapit, at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. She produced the Tapit filly, already named Unrivaled Princess, on Jan. 24.

Unique Bella is one of 136 stakes winners produced to date by daughters of Unbridled’s Song, who has steadily moved up the broodmare sire list over the last few years and ranked fourth among North American-based sires last year. That list includes 2017 stars Farrell, Flatlined, Made You Look, and Nomorerichblondes, as well as Unique Bella.

Tapit will not go quietly. His progeny’s three stakes wins over the weekend moved him into fourth place on the current general sire list, within easy striking distance of second-place Ghostzapper. Unique Bella is one of 96 stakes winners from 1,012 foals age 3 and up sired by the 2004 Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes winner who has dominated the sport for the last three years through the quantity of his high-quality offspring rather than the achievements of one or two superstars.

Tapit sired 21 black-type winners, including 15 graded winners last year, and although that number included his second Belmont Stakes winner in Creator (out of Morena, by Privately Held), his extraordinary quality as a sire is more accurately defined by the achievements of Frosted (Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister), who won the Grade 1 Metropolitan and Whitney; Lani (Heavenly Romance, by Sunday Silence), winner of the Grade 2 UAE Derby; and Ring Weekend (Free the Magic, by Cryptoclearance), all of whose best form is at about eight or nine furlongs, the sweet spot of American racing.

Most of Unbridled’s Song’s 119 career stakes winners to date also have excelled at those distances, and it is fitting that Arrogate may finally reward him with a leading sire title. A leading broodmare sire title may not be far behind.