Unbridled Excitement

You can't swing a cat without hitting a relative of Unbridled in this year's Derby picture, but I am not advocating you try either swinging a cat or avoiding this group of three-year-olds.  There will be at least a handful of Unbridled descendants that will have a great chance to follow in his footsteps and win Kentucky Derby 135.

The Fountain of Youth and the Sham Stakes are upon us this weekend, but I can't help thinking of  Frances Genter's Derby winner of 1990, Unbridled.  The long-legged son of Fappiano put forth an impressive effort in the Fountain of Youth 19 years ago that marked a turning point in his spring preparation for the Classic race.

Unbridled, the son of the highly regarded stallion Fappiano (Mr. Prospector out of Killaloe by Dr. Fager) won ten of his seventeen starts including the all-important Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile in 1981.

The Derby winner was out of the Le Fabuleux mare Gana Facil.  While the top side of Gana Facil's pedigree includes her French champion sire, her bottom side is peppered liberally with the produce of Tartan Farms in Ocala.  Her dam Charedi is by In Reality, also a winner of the 1967 Fountain of Youth, out of the Buckpasser mare Magic.  While Magic's pedigree has such great names as Buckpasser, Aspidistra, Busanda, Tom Fool, and War Admiral, the human list of contributors to her line is just as impressive, Ogden Phipps, John Hay Whitney/Greentree, Col. E.R. Bradley/Idle Hour, Samuel Riddle, and Robert Kleberg/King Ranch.

Unbridled began his career like another Carl Nafzger trainee, Street Sense with a maiden win at Arlington Park (8/2/89).  He ran six furlongs in 1:11 and 3/5 and won by a 10 ½ length margin, leaving stablemate Home At Last back in third.

The Genter-owned colt competed twice more in Arlington sprint stakes (8/23 and 9/13) with only two third place finishes to his credit.  He traveled to Cantebury for the September 24th running of the Cantebury Juvenile Stakes at one mile.  He finished second to Appealing Breeze.  Mike Smith rode the two-year-old in his first four starts.

The two-year-old headed south in October to his home state of Florida and ran into what would become a familiar nemesis, Shot Gun Scott.  They would compete in the mile and a sixteenth In Reality Division of the rich Florida Stallion Stakes Series at Calder.  Shot Gun Scott won the race over his 13 other competitors.  Unbridled ran second with Jose Velez Jr. aboard.

Unbridled regained his winning ways with a Christmas Eve win in the What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder in 1:45 and 1/5 seconds for the mile and a sixteenth event.  He defeated nine other competitors with a winning margin of five lengths.

The newly turned three-year-old made another Calder appearance to run in the Tropical Park Derby with a new rider, Craig Perret.  At that time, this stakes race was run on the dirt as opposed to the turf that they currently use.  He managed only a fifth place finish behind Run Turn, Country Day and Shot Gun Scott with the winner running the mile and an eighth in 1:52 and 2/5.  I was there that day and that race left me very confused.  I filed him near the end of my possible Derby winners after the effort.

The next time I would lay eyes on Unbridled would be in the March 3rd Fountain of Youth Stakes.  Under almost darkness, Pat Day and the colt, who appeared to have grown up and found his running style, would force me to reconsider him as a Derby frontrunner.  This effort at 7-1 odds was enough to catapult him into the Florida Derby picture as the second choice behind Claiborne Farm's Slavic.


1991 Fountain of Youth Stakes from Gulfstream Park


The same day the Florida Derby (March 17) was run the Swale Stakes was also on tap and a three-year-old colt named Summer Squall would make his three-year-old bow against the great sprinter Housebuster.  The Hopefull winner bled badly in a workout and was using Lasix for the first time.


1991 Swale Stakes from Gulfstream Park


Unbridled's Florida Derby could not have been more visually impressive but all of the buzz was about the slow time of 1:52.  Watch the son of Fappiano and the maturity he found in two weeks that lead him to make his own luck in the stretch this time.


1991 Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park


Frances Genter's colt would make one last start before the Derby on April 14th, his tenth lifetime race, going a mile and an eight at Keeneland on a muddy track in the Bluegrass Stakes.  He would reunite with Craig Perret and face his former jockey Pat Day who opted for the .30 favorite, Summer Squall. 

Unbridled finished third of five runners that day behind Summer Squall, but if you felt like most did, a bad race at Keeneland didn't necessarily mean a bad race at Churchill.  You had to be thinking about your odds at this point.

Rains left the Churchill Downs strip in good condition by post time on May 5th for the 1990 Kentucky Derby.  Thus far, Unbridled raced on two off tracks and ran third in both races, but the sun shone brightly for the race that afternoon. 

Carl Nafzger convinced 92-year-old Frances Genter that she must attend the race.  The namesake of the two-year-old champion My Dear Girl had done so much with her late husband Harold to help the Florida breeding industry with their connections with Ocala Stud Farm and then Tartan Farms it was fitting that she would be there running her first Derby starter and bringing Ocala to the forefront of breeding, at least for a while.


ABC's pre-race coverage


The running of the 1990 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs


The part that everyone remembers, Carl Nafzger's call of the Derby stretch run to Mrs. Genter


When he debuted as a four-year-old after winning the Breeders' Cup and taking a rest from the end of October 1990 until March 16, 1991, most people felt that Unbridled was a distance horse and a turn of foot in a shorter race might be something he just did not have.  That could have been a deterrent in the speed hungry commercial breeding market of the 1990's, but then they carded the Deputy Minister at seven furlongs and lured Housebuster into the race. 

1991 Deputy Minister at Gulfstream Park


Unbridled was the very definition of the racing term "inhaled" that day.

Mrs. Genter's colt would continue to race through 1991, but would win only one more time in an allowance at Arlington.  He danced all the dances from the Oaklawn Handicap, Pimlico Special, Pacific Classic and a repeat trip to the Breeders' Cup.  He retired to stud after his third place finish in the Classic. 

Unbridled produced eight crops before his untimely death at the age of 14  in 2001.  His sire, Fappiano died at 13 in 1990 after siring nine crops.  Their time was short, but as you can tell by this year's crop of three year olds, their influence is enormous.


Sham Stakes at Santa Anita

**The Pamplemousse is out of the Rubiano mare Comfort Zone, Rubiano is sired by Fappiano

**Unbridled Roman is out of the Unbridled mare Unravel

**Take the Points is by Even the Score by Unbridled's Song who is a son of Unbridled


Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream

**Bee Cee Cee is a longshot son of Songandaprayer by Unbridled's Song

**This Ones for Phil is by Untuttable by Unbridled


Most of the big horses will be still in the barn this weekend:

**Old Fashioned, the undefeated son of Unbridled's Song

**Pioneerof the Nile, is by Empire maker a son of Unbridled

**Stardom Bound's sire Tapit is out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels

**Midshipman by Unbridled's Song

**I want Revenge's dam Meguial is by Roy a son of Fappiano

**Dunkirk by Unbridled's Song

**Hello Broadway is by the Unbridled stallion Broken Vow

**Imperial Council by Empire Maker

**General Quarters is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Ecology

**Silver City is by Unbridled's Song

Many of the Unbridled descendents carry the unbroken semi-wide blaze just like he did and his broodmare sire Le Fabuleux before him.  Unbridled Roman, Old Fashioned and This Ones for Phil seem the most closely matched.

After what happened last year if you believe in Derby Gods you can stop handicapping.  There are no people more deserving after what they had to bear last year than Mr. Rick Porter and Mr. Larry Jones.  They deserve to see their Unbridled's Song offspring, Old Fashioned or their Friesan Fire (by A.P. Indy) take them to the winner's circle.


Leave a Comment:


A very interesting point about all the Unbridled blood in this years derby picture.  With the exception of the Empire Maker offspring and one Unbridled's Song son {Sunkirk}, most of them are by the wrong Unbridled son.  Unbridled's Song has not shown with any regularity at all that he sires horses who want to go farther than 1 1/8 miles.  Dunkirk looks to be the real deal, but his bottom line is all stamina.  Breeders keep sending mares by sprint sires to him and he does not sire stayers.  I hope Larry Jones does win the Derby before he retires.  He is a class act and that is something sorely missing from todays industry.

27 Feb 2009 10:52 AM

Plus, you can add in all of the Candy Rides, descending from Fappiano through Cryptoclearance.

27 Feb 2009 11:19 AM
Becky Johnston

You're exactly right on the Candy Ride offspring.  I saw Ride the Rails defeat Dehere as a newly minted three year old in an opening race at Gulfstream Park one weekend.  Didn't Jimmy Bracken train him?

27 Feb 2009 11:31 AM

Thanks for that ride thru history. I always loved Unbridled and I still choke up when I see that scene with Carl and  Mrs. Genter. I hope Old Fashion wins for Mr Porter and Larry. It would be almost as great as Unbridled's win in respect to emotion.

27 Feb 2009 12:14 PM

Unbridled will forever remind me of my mother (paassed away in '94 at the age of 80) We didn't yet have OTB but the derby was on TV and I told her to pick a horse and I would and if our horse wins the other would pay $5. Mum picked Unbridled (and her name wws Frances) She was so excited in the race and I don't even remember who I picked, it didn't matter.

27 Feb 2009 3:27 PM

I got to see Unbridled in 1999 when he and I were 12. Getting to meet -- and pet -- him was incredible. He was -- and still is -- my favorite stallion after Man o' War, and my heart broke when I learned that he died.

He was really making a name for himself as a stud at the time of his death. His successes in the Triple Crown with his offspring are significant, given that most Derby winners rarely sire offspring that go on to do the same. I'd like to see Old Fashioned, Imperial Council, or Pioneerof the Nile win the roses this year. It would do Unbridled proud.

27 Feb 2009 8:07 PM

Great to see Unbridled run again.  Thank you for a great story.  Unbridled Song is no Unbridled and hoping one of his sons wins the Derby is nice but not likely.  No son of Unbridled Song has ever hit the board in Kentucky and this year will be no different.

28 Feb 2009 8:27 AM
unbridled man

Unbridled's Song was by far the best Unbridled.  He only lost the Derby because of the bar shoes.  At stud Unbridled's Song is not the equal of his father, but his consistency and longevity will influence the breed for decades.

28 Feb 2009 11:11 AM

I saw Unbridled on an "off" day at the 1991 Pimlico Special; his looks and Derby resume' were impressive to us-seminarians at nearby St. Mary's.  In 1996, visiting Claiborne, the worker/guide invited me into the stall of the sleeping (cat like) Unbridled.  With my first picture, he "whooshed" to his full height, right in front of me, and I got two more shots.  That was a memorable encounter, inside the old stall of Bold Ruler, Secretariat, and Easy Goer.  Unbridled obviously belonged in that stall...and for many more years.

28 Feb 2009 4:02 PM
Karin C-C

Very nice write-up.  Just one minor thing:  "no room to swing a cat" has nothing to do with felines.  The cat the saying refers to was the cat o' nine tails, a kind of whip.

Anyone for a Dunkirk-Friesan Fire exacta box?

28 Feb 2009 6:45 PM

Dunkirk won't have a chance against Quality Road.  Sooner or later Dunkirk and Friesan Fire have to face Graded Stakes winners.  Quality Road has and came out on top.

28 Feb 2009 8:00 PM
David R

Wonderful article about my favorite horse of all-time. I have always felt Unbridled has not been appreciated enough. How is this Derby and Breeder's Cup winner NOT in the Hall of Fame?? Thanks to the writer for giving him his props!

28 Feb 2009 9:37 PM

no son of unbridle`s song hit the board in the derby....but a filly of his did.....eight bells

02 Mar 2009 12:44 AM

Great blog. You have a great grasp of history and do an excellent job incorporating it into current stories/race analyses. I also enjoy your use of the YouTube videos.  Looking at Unbridled's Florida Derby again, you are correect that it was visually very impressive and portended the future. One reason the time was slow is that Unbridled was only asked for enough to win, and because that field was so weak he wasnt asked for much. Day just waited like he always did, and only asked Unbridled to run the final eighth. The rest of the field was fairly poor. Slavic had some back class, but never really developed at 3. The only horse who went on to win races of significance was Roanoke, who had modest success when sent to California under Neil Drysdale.  In contrast, that Swale field was loaded, with 2-time Eclipse champion sprinter Housebuster, Jim Beam/Blue Grass/Preakness winner Summer Squall, and Thirty Six Red, the winner of the Gotham and Wood who also ran 2nd in the Belmont and 3rd in the Breeders Cup Classic.  Those 3, along with Unbridled, gave the Gulfstream fans a real treat that day.

02 Mar 2009 3:09 AM
Carolyn in ND

I think this will be L.Jones & Mr.Porter's 3rd go for the Derby.  I do hope they win.  Time will tell as much could change till the Derby.  Sad that Midshipman is hurt, hope he heals good.

02 Mar 2009 3:38 PM

Unbridled was a great racehorse, but was hit or miss as a stallion either they were great or they were bums, very rarely did he get a average horse. As for Unbridled's Song not getting a Derby horse, this is the year he will not only get a Derby Winner he will get the Exacta with an outside chance of the triple and if you count him as a broodmare sire he may hit the superfecta, he is white hot as a sire right now.

02 Mar 2009 4:34 PM
unbridled man

Unbridled moment - When Unbridled came to Del Mar for the Pacific Classic, my wife and I were at the paddock to watch him. As Carl came by, walking alongside Unbridled my wife excitedly called out "Carl". Mr. Nafzger, always the gentleman came over to talk to us for a moment. We thanked him for bringing this beautiful creature out for us to see in person. He was very generous with his time and spoke to us for several minutes. As he walked away my wife said quietly to me, Carl is such a handsome young man.

02 Mar 2009 9:48 PM

Thank you J.A.L. How quickly some forget the great fillies he has sired!

03 Mar 2009 11:36 AM
Ed Zepplin

Unbridled has been the most influential sire or sire of sires of of Triple crown contenders in the past decade. His blend of Speed and stamina are very hard to match. His foals generally had enormous size along with the fappiano leg issues.Unbridled's Song is proving that he is truly an elite sire in the world both at the sales and on the track. His detractors hate this but truly objective observers are realizing his impact on our industry.

05 Mar 2009 2:12 PM

Thanks for sharing the Unbridled facts on the great influence of Mrs. Genter's dream come true!

06 Apr 2009 12:19 PM

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