Updated on 07/28/2013 12:04AM

Unbridled's Song, Grade 1 winner and prominent sire, dead at 20

Barbara D. Livingston
Unbridled's Song stood his entire stud career at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky., where he recently completed the breeding season.

Unbridled’s Song, a Grade 1 winner and one of the top commercial sires of his generation, was euthanized on Friday after a large mass was discovered in multiple sinus cavities and around his optic nerves, leading to a rapid decline in health. He was 20.

The horse had been admitted to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday to undergo tests for symptoms of neurological issues that had developed earlier in the day.

The son of Unbridled stood his entire stud career at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky., where he recently completed the breeding season. He last stood for an advertised fee of $60,000.

Ben Taylor, Vice President of Taylor Made Stallions, said that Unbridled’s Song had shown no signs of trouble leading up to his decline on Thursday.

“He had some vet issues through the breeding season, which hampered him, but he was completely over it and doing perfect, and we couldn’t be happier with him the day before – and then after that, he came in and he showed symptoms of problems and it went downhill from there,” Taylor said.

"Unbridled’s Song was majestic from the beginning. Rarely are there horses that are supposed to be great from the beginning and actually are," said Taylor Made President and CEO Duncan Taylor. "Unbridled’s Song was one of those great horses. He had it all - looks, pedigree, speed, and presence.”

Bred in Kentucky by Mandysland Farm, Unbridled’s Song was from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner and champion Unbridled. He was out of the winning Caro mare Trolley Song, whose produce also included unraced Spanish Steps, sire of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike.

Unbridled’s Song was a $200,000 purchase at the 1994 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale by Ernie Paragallo’s Paraneck Stable. He was then sold as a 2-year-old for $1.4 million at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training, with Taylor Made as agent, only to be bought back by Paragallo when sale buyer Hiroshi Fujita refused the sale after stating that his veterinarian found evidence of ankle bone chips.

Campaigned by Paraneck, Unbridled’s Song was a fast starter on the racetrack, breaking his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths and capping off his 2-year-old season with a win in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His spring campaign the following year made him one of the favorites on the 1996 Kentucky Derby trail, with wins in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. He left the gates as the 7-2 post-time favorite in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fifth to Grindstone.

Unbridled’s Song’s career ended prematurely in 1997, when he suffered a broken cannon bone while training up to the Donn Handicap. He retired with five wins from 12 starts for earnings of $1,311,800. The horse was trained by James Ryerson for all but his final two starts, when he was trained by Nick Zito.

Unbridled’s Song was retired to Taylor Made for the 1997 breeding season, and he became an internationally successful sire of racehorses and in the commercial arena.

[MORE UNBRIDLED'S SONG: Barbara D. Livingston photo gallery]

[A look at Unbridled's Song in 'The Home Run Horse: Inside America's Billion-Dollar Racehorse Industry and the High-Stakes Dreams that Fuel It', by DRF's Glenye Cain Oakford]

His progeny are led by U.S. champion Midshipman, Canadian champion Embur’s Song, Breeders’ Cup Distaff/Ladies’ Classic winners Unrivaled Belle, and Unbridled Elaine. He also sired multiple Grade 1 winners Octave, Splendid Blended, Thorn Song, and Zensational, as well as 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles and 2009 Belmont Stakes runner-up Dunkirk.

From 14 crops of racing age, Unbridled’s Song has sired 100 stakes winners, including 45 graded stakes winners, for combined earnings of over $89 million. He became the 27th North American stallion to eclipse 100 stakes winners earlier this year when Graydar took the Donn Handicap, and was one of ten active stallions worldwide to accomplish the feat prior to his death.

Unbridled’s Song became a force to be reckoned with in the auction industry, with his lifetime average yearling price of $298,118 leading all North American sires. He ranks third all-time among North American sires by yearling gross sales with $198,844,653.

The stallion’s influence has also been felt as a sire of sires, with over 45 sons standing around the world, led by Grade 1-producing sires Even the Score and First Defence. He is also represented by high-profile first-crop sires Old Fashioned and Zensational, as well as young sires Dunkirk, Songandaprayer, Midshipman, and Mission Impazible.

Unbridled’s Song is also the broodmare sire of multiple Grade 1 winner and young sire General Quarters, New York-bred Horse of the Year and Grade 1 winner The Lumber Guy, Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command, and Hong Kong Group 1 winner Warning Flag, among many others.

"Our team loved him from the beginning,” Duncan Taylor said. “I appreciate and am proud of the job our team did with the management of this magnificent horse. I would also like to thank the breeders and owners who supported and helped him become a great stallion."

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Jamie DeRouen More than 1 year ago
eight belles broke down because she took a bad step not because she was unsound
mikey More than 1 year ago
what a crock!!
not impressed More than 1 year ago
The majority of his problems with unsoundness had to do with horrible connections. Anyone will tell you the real reason his progeny were so unsound was because they were rushed. He threw BIG, long legged horses and when they were allowed to grow into their frame as 3yos and up, they were relatively sound. But when they were pushed like he was, they were extremely fragile. I LOVED this horse, but not the unsoundness he passed on. And in case no one remembers, he was coming off a cannon bone injury from when he raced Cigar in the Arlington Citation Challenge in July 1996 by the time he came around to the Olympic Handicap the following year. So he had more problems than have been posted or talked about here. I LOVE his bottom line, Troy as a broodmare sire. You just don't see good European lines like this anymore (minus Animal Kingdom). Unfortunately because breeders and owners are greedy and want returns right away, that dictates what type of horses we breed. Hence all the shortened races lately! There are repercussions all around whether you realize it or not. Pretty soon TB's will be competing with QH's because the races are so short.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Phippses have a filly by him to Storm Flag Flying named Sea Trial.Lets hope she gets to the races and does him good.Knowing Shug he will take his time.
Joyce Johnson Groome More than 1 year ago
unfortunately,,,, any time I saw a horse running that was out of Unbridled Song! I waited for him or her to break down! Lovely horse but weak pedigree! Sign of the times!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's always sad when a champion passes, but in this case, I can't get past Eight Belles and the other tragic offspring sired by Unbridled Song.
Cal MacDonald More than 1 year ago
May this beautiful angel RIP and may his legacy live on always! I certainly hope the naysayers and the ones complaining about unsoundness issues know what they are talking about because many of the unsoundness issues in racing come from inbreeding not from one single horse or line. Come on, give the guy a break and let him RIP and stop trying to start arguments when there are those fans and folks out there in the business that are truly mourning this loss...it is a great loss to the Racing world and it should be respected for that and not used to complain about issues that aren't all to blame on the Unbridled line. RIP Unbridled's Song...Gone to soon but never forgotten!! One of the best Sires in the business always will be.
not impressed More than 1 year ago
People familiar with Native Dancer would argue that one whole heartedly...
Jamie DeRouen More than 1 year ago
Tim you are a mental midget, don't know anything about a horse. First off people think he passes unsoundness to the breed. I think its just the same with any other Horse. The problem with the Unbridled's Song babies were because of money and patience his babies matured real fast and if you can get them to run early and win two year old stake races then they can become stallions worth money.Very few trainers were patient enough to run them at three which I think would of served his progeny better. Their are very few outfits that breed to race and take their time with the horses these days The money started really flowing in for sale horses when Storm Cat came around and then Unbridled songs and so on. Everybody wanted to cash in on the awesome yearlings and two year olds and you cant blame them. Like I said earlier their is a shortage of breeding to race but not a shortage of hitting a homerun with one of these young babies at the sale that can be a life changer
Brock Buccola More than 1 year ago
My dream sire. For us who breed in CA, it's all about Thorn Song now. After reading these posts, will have to think hard about the unsoundness issues on this ling...
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Thorn Song was a sound, tough horse - I wouldn't be afraid to breed to him. He had foot problems (like his sire) - his main problem came when he came to California and had to run on these hard turf courses. He was 7 yrs old when he ruptured a tendon, not 3 - his survival was ever bit as miraculous as anything Paynter went through.
redboy More than 1 year ago
What other horse are you naysayer going to latch onto now that he's gone,Wow,The horse was a great performer and producer and lived to be 20 and just passed , and you can;t wait a reasonable amount of time to get your kicks,On the level of class you people rank as 5k Claimers. Rest in Peace Unbridled's Song its been and is a pleasure to watch your progeny.
Tim More than 1 year ago
his progeny is breaking down. this horse had twelve starts and how old was he?
redboy More than 1 year ago
Exactly 12 starts Alot more then some of the recent retirees.Win a Graded stakes or 2 and off to the breeding shed with a life threatening injury Uncle Mo/Union Rags/.Violence and list really does go on and on. If your a gelding it doesnt matter who your sire is you are truly sound.!
Paul More than 1 year ago
His owner was .... let's just say not playing with a full deck and ran him into the ground. He never should of ran in the KY Derby but his owner was one of those guy's who needed to see his name in the paper. Had a very bad quarter crack the week of the Derby and they ran him anyway. Was leading turning for home and finished 5th running on 3 legs. He was never right after that and they never gave him the time he needed to get right.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Will miss this horse... His record doesn't reflect how good he was... Rest in Peace pal.