Forever Unbridled nails Songbird for Personal Ensign win

Forever Unbridled nails Songbird for Personal Ensign win”

This year, Forever Unbridled kicked it in. With a relentless late run down the middle of the lane, the daughter of a Kentucky Oaks victor, and granddaughter of a Kentucky Derby victor, scored her biggest career victory today by rallying by the two-time champion Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign by a measured and decisive neck.

A victor of 13-of-14 coming in, Songbird was the filly to beat this afternoon at Saratoga. Her streak-stopper was hardly an embarrassment - a nose loss to the great Beholder in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Lady Eli, who overcame a severe bout with laminitis two years ago, came from fourth place in a field of five to close out the stake racing afternoon with a win in the $400,000, Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

The win was the second in as many starts this year for Forever Unbridled, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song owned and bred by Charles Fipke and trained by Dallas Stewart. She has journeyed East for each of her three starts this season. Sent off as the 2-1 second-choice behind the Eclipse victor in this short field of four, the bay trailed the field in her usual fashion as Songbird ticked off opening splits of:24.14, :47.91 and 1:12.29.

Mike Smith, Songbird's rider, believes Songbird is the same, but that perhaps Forever Unbridled - who was just 1 1/4 lengths behind Songbird in last year's Distaff - has improved.

Smith actually lauded Rosario for keeping Forever Unbridled wide and contemplated whether to bring his filly several paths out to try and engage. Songbird remained in first, Forever Unbridled in last, through moderate fractions of:24.14 and:47.91. Going For Broke and Eskenformoney filled the classy Personal Ensign sandwich. The flight will also make a stop in Kentucky, dropping off multiple Grade 1 victor Forever Unbridled so she may rejoin trainer Dallas Stewart's division there. Making ground up on the far outside, she was positioned to make a run at the champion.

The winner's check for $220,000 raised her lifetime purse earnings within a few dollars of the $3 million level. The favorite still led at the sixteenth pole, but it was clear that the second choice was reeling her in. In the final twenty yards, Songbird tasted defeat for only the second time to, on this day at least, the better mare. "It wasn't easy, (Songbird) came back on her, it looked like to me".

"I'm very competitive, but in saying that, all I can do is my best, ask her for hers, and we just got run today". "She's not supposed to get run down and they ran her down". "Something's not right. She's just not right, and I will get her checked out". She looks good today, too.

As tight-lipped trainer Jerry Hollendorfer watched Smith jog Songbird back to be unsaddled, one woman called out, "We still love you, girl!"

The late money hammered Forever Unbridled from 6-1 to 2-1 in the field of four.

Now Hollendorfer and owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm will turn their attention to the next moves for Songbird. There was no trifecta betting.

In his post-race remarks, Stewart said, "I was hoping she'd get there, but you never know when you're trying to run down a champion". "The way she's training and the way she's always trained, she's a great mare". "She's powerful and strong like Winning Colors was".

The tentative plan with Forever Unbridled is to ship back to Churchill Downs to prepare for a defense of Belmont's Grade 1 Beldame, which she annexed en route to a third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2016. "It's the most logical choice for her next race, especially since she won it a year ago". I don't think there's a stronger family in the world.

Jay Em Ess Stable's By the Moon punched her ticket to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint when she outran six opponents to win the $500,000, Grade 1 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes at seven furlongs on the main track. "Mr. [Charles] Fipke has put it together and deserves the credit".

The Personal Ensign was a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race, giving Forever Unbridled an all-fees-waived entry into the Breeders' Cup Distaff on November 3 at Del Mar.

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