The Ever-Dramatic Unbridled's Song

You could name many expensive sales horses, brilliant racehorses, or top commercial sires, but it's not often that one horse manages to do everything. Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) was that horse, but even better, he did it all with a measure of drama.

He was a trendsetter in the sales ring. A $200,000 yearling from the first crop of Unbridled, the colt became one of the all-time great pinhooks when he sold for $1.4 million at the Barretts select 2-year-old sale. In a unique twist, buyer Hiroshi Yoshida refused to pay the purchase price after X-rays revealed a chip in the colt's left front ankle. Ernie Paragallo, Unbridled's Song's outspoken and controversial owner, took the horse back.

Unbridled's Song wasn't the 2-year-old champion; that title went to Maria's Mon, who beat him in the Champagne (gr. I) and skipped the Breeders' Cup. Judging by the determined way Unbridled's Song won the Juvenile (gr. I), Maria's Mon surely would have had his hands full.

Unbridled's Song went into spring as the hot Kentucky Derby favorite, but he was plagued by cracked heels. His connections declared him out of the race, only to equip him with a pair of egg-bar shoes and declare the colt back in. As if that wasn't a big enough hurdle, the horse drew post 20 for the Derby, prompting loud gasps from the crowd at the televised post position draw.

Racing in those egg-bar shoes, Unbridled's Song still ran huge in the Derby. He stalked a strong pace, took the lead going into the far turn, but, leg-weary, weakened in the stretch to be fifth, beaten only four lengths by Grindstone.

A stallion at Taylor Made since 1997, Unbridled's Song has been among the leading U.S. sires for more than a decade, never having a quiet season. His offspring were, like him, very good-looking, and his lifetime yearling average, $298,483, was the highest among active U.S. sires at the time of his death July 26.

His offspring were immensely talented, but often fragile. Jon Seaman, whose company measures horses for bloodstock evaluation, called Unbridled's Song "by far the largest stallion in Kentucky," and he was certainly every bit of 17 hands. Accordingly, he sired large horses that, despite their precociousness, probably required more time to mature than they were given.

Every year he seemed to have a Derby contender or at least a winter favorite—Songandaprayer, Buddha, Domestic Dispute, Eurosilver, Rockport Harbor, Eight Belles, Midshipman, Old Fashioned, Dunkirk, Will Take Charge—but the Unbridled's Songs weren't just early 3-year-olds, as evidenced by graded winners Unbridled Elaine, Even the Score, Forest Music, Political Force, Half Ours, First Defence, One Caroline, Unrivaled Belle, Mission Impazible, Emcee, and Graydar.

At the time of his death, Unbridled's Song had sired 100 stakes winners, including 45 graded winners and 16 grade I. He has no fewer than 55 sons at stud according to StallionRegister.com, and he's off to a promising start as a broodmare sire, with his daughters having produced U.S. grade I winners General Quarters, J. B.'s Thunder, Rolling Fog, Unbridled Command, and The Lumber Guy.

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