Australians Kevin and Colleen Bamford and American David Bernsen have purchased a substantial interest of recent Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) winner Unbridled Command from prominent owner/breeder Lewis Lakin and plan to launch an assault on Royal Ascot and the $3 million Cox Plate (Aus-I) in 2013.
The international ownership partnership announced its plans for Unbridled Command in a press release Jan. 3. The Bamfords co-owned 2010 Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner Americain and Bernsen was part-owner of Voila Ici and Sanagas. All competed in the 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Unbridled Command has won his last five starts for trainer Tom Bush, all on the grass, including two graded wins in the last three. The handsome 16.2 hand gray demonstrated a devastating turn of foot to easily draw off and win the Hollywood Derby in California Nov. 25.
He defeated the highly-regarded European import Grandeur, who later won the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) as the favorite when soundly beating older horses.
Unbridled Command, bred in New York, where he had done all of his previous running, sports a record of 6-1-2 from 10 lifetime races and earnings of $469,040.
He is from the first crop of deceased sire Master Command (by A.P. Indy) and is scheduled to make his next start in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/8 miles in Florida Feb. 9. The field is expected to include multiple grade I winner Point of Entry, second in 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), and recent Arrowfield Stud acquisition Animal Kingdom, winner of 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and most recently second in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
Following that race, Unbridled Command will be shipped to English trainer Ed Dunlop to prepare for an international campaign centered around Royal Ascot and culminating with the Cox Plate in October and the Hong Kong International races in December.
The Newmarket-based Dunlop is renowned for traveling horses worldwide with great success, such as group I winners Snow Fairy and Ouija Board, as well as Red Cadeaux, second in 2011 Melbourne Cup and winner of the Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) this past December.
"I am thrilled to have been asked to train Unbridled Command," said Dunlop in a statement. "He has already proved himself to be a top class horse in America who has shown he can travel across the country and win impressively, and I am hoping that he will be able to continue this in Europe and ultimately in Australia. Ever since Red Cadeaux's near miss in the Melbourne Cup, I have been keen to try and get more horses to go down to Australia. The Cox Plate is a race which really excites me and it will be our main aim at this stage."
Leigh Jordon, head of international recruiting for Racing Victoria in Australia, said, "Unbridled Command holds a high International rating and with his explosive turn of foot he is the perfect horse for the group I Cox Plate in 2013."
When asked if Unbridled Command was a Melbourne Cup candidate, Bernsen commented, "Kevin, Colleen, and I partner on Kindergarden Kid who ran a bang up race in the Breeders' Cup Turf and will be heading down for the Melbourne Cup from France in September.
"As for Unbridled Command, our primary goal is the Cox Plate. He is a rapidly improving young horse who is already a group I winner with considerable stallion upside in both the USA and Australia. While he certainly would be weighted into the Melbourne Cup, he has yet to pass the balloting clause. We are in no rush with him and plan to campaign him in 2014, so the Melbourne Cup might be next year's target."