Unbridled's Note, invading from New York for his debut on turf, captured the $100,000 Eddie D Stakes (gr. IIIT) in fine style over the hillside turf course on opening day of the 2012 fall meet at Santa Anita Park Sept. 28 (VIDEO).
Kept clear on the outside by jockey Corey Nakatani, the slight 3-1 favorite in the field of 12 swept past pacesetter Chosen Miracle in deep stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
A 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time, the leggy son of Unbridled's Song was most impressive while clocking the about 6 1/2-furlong distance down the hill in 1:12.45 over firm going. Having tamed the difficult course in his first attempt, the victory could signal a future start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) Nov. 3 over the same layout.
"This puts us in a position to make the Breeders' Cup (Turf Sprint) with him," said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. "I just told Corey to put him in a good spot and see if he liked it or not. They either like it or they don't but he's bred to like the grass and he's a really talented colt."
The Eddie D, renamed for the Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, was previously known as the Morvich Stakes.
"It's a great honor (to have a stakes race named for me), especially because I'm living to see it," said Delahoussaye after making the winner's circle presentation. "Most of the time, they give these awards and the people are deceased, and they never know they have won it. So at least I know I won it - thank God!"
"It's an honor to win this race," Nakatani said. "Eddie was one of the guys I idolized when I first started. It's good to get that first stakes win for the meet out of the way. This horse is a good enough horse to put me in the position I needed to be in to win. The key is if they handle it (the turf), and he handled it just fine. It's Eddie D.'s day today, though. He's a great asset to the sport."
Unbridled's Note is trained by Steve Asmussen for owner Mike McCarty. He was coming off a close third-place finish in the Aug. 25 Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, finishing a half-length behind the victorious Willy Beamin. Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms and the Unbridled's Song syndicate, the bay notched his third lifetime win from seven starts.
Breaking from the far outside post in the large field, Nakatani was content to keep Unbridled's Note in a stalking position fourth on the outside. Chosen Miracle took the early lead from Comma to the Top and led by about 1 1/2 lengths. He was pushed along by 31-1 outsider Canuletmedowneasy with Comma to the Top racing a close-up third. The opening fractions were :22.30 and :44.28.
Chosen Miracle repelled a challenge from Canuletmedowneasy rounding the turn and opened up a bit in upper stretch as Comma to the Top, along the inside, and Unbridled's Note, moved to striking position on the outside, gave chase. Unbridled's Note, closing stoutly off the turn, was going best and seized the advantage well past mid-stretch, maintaining it to the wire under strong handling from Nakatani.
Chosen Miracle, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, led by 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch and held on for second by a neck as Mensa Heat and Juan Hernandez closed late for third, edging Comma to the Top by half a length.
Unbridled's Note, out of the winning Siberian Express mare Siberian Fur, was purchased for $140,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2011 Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. He brought $150,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2010.
The $60,000 winning purse increased his earnings to $195,741. Unsuccessful on the Triple Crown trail at Oaklawn Park during the winter and early spring, Unbridled's Note has blossomed since moved back to sprinting. He was third in Saratoga's Amsterdam (gr. II) prior to his big effort in the King's Bishop.
Carrying 119 pounds, Unbridled's Note paid $8, $5.60, and $3.80. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trainer Chosen Miracle, sent off at odds of 12-1, returned $11.60 and and $7.80 and was part of a generous $136.20 exacta. Mensa Heat paid $10 to show.
Comma to the Top, tuning up for a possible Breeders' Cup run, was a disappointment following a big win in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes on closing day at Del Mar Sept. 5.
"You know, he ran OK," trainer Peter Miller said of Comma to the Top. "I think he's a better horse on the main track than on the turf or the synthetic. He's run on the grass, he's won on the grass, but he's not quite as good in my opinion."