10/31/2014 8:45PM

Untapable caps big year with Distaff win

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Barbara D. Livingston
Untapable and jockey Rosie Napravnik score by 1 1/4 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Friday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Meet the new queen of the distaff division, and say goodbye to a star female jockey.

Untapable overcame a wide trip and a stubborn pacesetter to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Friday at Santa Anita, stamping herself as a legitimate star in her first try against older fillies and mares.

As for jockey Rosie Napravnik, her surprise post-race revelation was that she is seven weeks’ pregnant and would retire from riding after this weekend.

“It’s a very special way to go out,” Napravnik said. “I am retiring from riding on Sunday. Joe (Sharp, her husband) and I are going to start a family.”

Sharp is a trainer in Kentucky.

The surprise announcement will share headlines with the Distaff win by Untapable, which came before a 37,205 ontrack crowd.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Ron Winchell, Untapable was wide much of the race over an inside-favoring track. She won by 1 1/4 lengths over Don’t Tell Sophia, who collared pacesetter Iotapa in the final stride.

While the Distaff was the official coming-out party for Untapable and unofficial goodbye for Napravnik, the race may also have spelled the end for Close Hatches. The second favorite, she was parked wide and finished last, her second straight subpar performance.

"I can't offer an excuse," said Bill Mott, who trains Close Hatches, "but it looks like she's had enough."

Meanwhile, the career of the 3-year-old Untapable is hitting full steam. She will stay in training next year. The win was her eighth from 11 starts; she is 6 for 7 this year.

Untapable will need a new rider when she returns. Napravnik has been the regular rider for Untapable most of her career, including her Kentucky Oaks smasher in May.

The Distaff was a lot tougher than the Oaks. Breaking from post 10 in the Distaff, Untapable was four wide into the first turn, unable to save ground at any stage, rallied into contention on the far turn and into lane, and was fully extended to get past Iotapa.

The wide trip did not concern Napravnik. “I didn’t have any problem with going wide. I was sitting on a lot of horse,” she said.

It was not the first time she won despite a compromising trip; she did the same thing in late September at Parx when she won the Grade 1 Cotillion.

“I don’t think anything she did this year was easy,” Asmussen said.

The final time for the 1 1/8 miles was a slow 1:41.68. Untapable returned $5.20 as the betting favorite.

Tiz Midnight set the pace inside, hounded by Iotapa. Tiz Midnight set fractions of 22.93 and 46.73 seconds. On far turn, Tiz Midnight backed up. The six-furlong time was 1:10.95. Iotapa inherited the lead and tried to hold off Untapable.

The fifth- through 12th-place finishers were Unbridled Forever, Tiz Midnight, Stanwyck, Valiant Emilia, Bella Gallantey, L’Amour de Ma Vie, and Close Hatches.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to go out,” Napravnik said. However, there are more Breeders’ Cup races to run. Friday was not the finale for Napravnik.

“Oh, no, I’m riding [Saturday],” she said, laughing. “Just as well as I rode today, hopefully. I feel wonderful. I feel great.”

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen