Updated on 09/15/2011 1:20PM

Unbridled Elaine nails Spain late


ELMONT, N.Y. - Unbridled Elaine, who was transferred back to her original trainer only one week ago, ran down Spain in the final yards to capture the $2.36 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on Saturday and deny Spain her second straight victory in the championship race.

The Distaff, the first Breeders' Cup race of the day, was delayed for nearly 15 minutes because of a freak injury that befell Exogenous, who reared back and hit her head just as she was about to step on the track for the post parade. Exogenous, who remained prone, had to be sedated in order to be taken from the track in a horse ambulance. She was reported to be recovering satisfactorily in her stall 45 minutes later.

Unbridled Elaine, rallying in the middle of the track, won by a head over Spain, who had a two-length lead with a furlong remaining. Two Item Limit was another 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Unbridled Elaine ($26.20) was timed in 1:49.21 for 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track.

Tranquility Lake and Queenie Belle led a tightly packed field through fractions of 23.62 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.94 for a half-mile while racing into a stiff headwind. Spain was to the outside of those two, while Flute, the 11-10 favorite, was trapped inside, on a part of the track that jockeys seemed to avoid if they could.

Unbridled Elaine, meanwhile, was near the back of the 11-horse field, with jockey Pat Day biding his time. Unbridled Elaine was forced to wait for running room with a quarter-mile remaining, then had to alter course sharply to the outside with 300 yards to go. By that time, Spain had vaulted clear of the field, but Unbridled Elaine closed furiously.

Had Spain won, she would have been only the fifth horse to win Breeders' Cup races in successive years.

Flute, meanwhile, was unable to get away from the inside, and wound up seventh. She ran trainer Bobby Frankel's Breeders' Cup record to 0 for 37.

The victory for Unbridled Elaine brought a wide range of emotions. Day became the winningest jockey in Breeders' Cup history with 12 victories. Dallas Stewart, the winning trainer, got his first Breeders' Cup victory. But trainer David Vance, who had Unbridled Elaine taken away from him one week ago by owner Roger Devenport, was bitterly upset.

"I thought it sucked," Vance said from his home in Louisville, Ky. "It cost me over $100,000. I don't work seven days a week just for my health. You try to do the right thing. You're supposed to be professional. I've probably said enough."

Unbridled Elaine originally was trained by Stewart, but was removed from his care by the 81-year-old Devenport and given to Vance in June. But on the morning of Oct. 20, Devenport phoned Vance and told him Stewart would be over in two hours to pick up Unbridled Elaine and nine other horses. Both Stewart and Vance train at Churchill Downs.

for the Breeders' Cup Distaff chart.*

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