Decisive Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) winner Untapable will take her next big step along the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) trail when she faces four others in the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Slated as the seventh race on the Fair Grounds card, the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies has a post time of 4:15 p.m. CDT.
Untapable, a daughter of Tapit —Fun House, by Prized, headlines the race as the sole graded stakes winner. But she will likely face some tough competition from her other rivals, all consistent winners in their young careers.
A Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, Untapable most recently rolled to an exciting 9 1/2-length victory over Got Lucky in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra. Trained by Steve Asmussen, she broke her maiden on her first try at 2 at Churchill Downs, and then came right back to capture the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at the Louisville track.
After being eased and finishing unplaced in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), Untapable returned to good form when third in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I), beaten just 2 3/4 lengths.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has been aboard for all of Untapable starts with the exception of the Hollywood Starlet, has the call for the Fair Grounds Oaks. The pair will break from the inside post.
Among Untapable's most threatening foes is a daughter of Unbridled's Song, Unbridled Forever. Interestingly, she is trained by Dallas Stewart, who also conditioned her dam, 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever (by Lemon Drop Kid ).
"She's trained very well for the race; her works have been pristine and right on," said Stewart of the Charles Fipke homebred, who enters the Fair Grounds Oaks off a victory in the Jan. 18 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds. "She looks like she's doing well, and I'm happy with the way she's handled her training and the time off."
Stewart said the spacing between Unbridled Forever's races was simply to promote a "sound and healthy athlete. I won't say she couldn't have run back in the Rachel Alexandra, but we're just trying to space out her races a little bit," he explained.
Unbridled Forever, who broke her maiden on her second try last November at Churchill, will have regular rider Robby Albarado aboard from the outside post.
The Fair Grounds Oaks also includes the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s Fiftyshadesofgold, who was undefeated as a juvenile until victimized by a rough trip in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course, where she was advanced from fourth to third through a disqualification.
Fiftyshadesofgold returned as a winner this season in the restricted Two Altazano Stakes Feb. 15 at Sam Houston Race Park, scoring by 2 1/2 lengths while less than fully extended.
Rounding out the field is Fox Hill Farms' Mary Rita, a late-developing daughter of Distorted Humor who broke her maiden at Fair Grounds Jan 25 and won an allowance optional claimer there Feb. 21; and Artist Cry, a Louisiana-bred filly who has won all three of her starts this year over Fair Ground's turf course, including the Feb. 15 restricted Sarah Lane's Oates Stakes.
$400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II, approximate post time 4:15 p.m. EDT), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Untapable (KY), R Napravnik, S M Asmussen
2. Mary Rita (KY), K D Clark, J L Jones
3. Fiftyshadesofgold (TX), M E Smith, W B Calhoun
4. Artist Cry (LA), J Graham, W E Hawley
5. Unbridled Forever (KY), R Albarado, D Stewart
All assigned 121 pounds.