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.

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