Unbridled Forever has the same end goal as her dam—2010 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) Lemons Forever—did at this time eight years ago: a blanket of lilies on the first Friday in May.
But that's where the similarities seem to end for the mother and daughter, who differ in looks, personality, and running style, trainer Dallas Stewart said. The one thing they do share, however, is a desire to win and the talent to support it.
Unbridled Forever, who is set to contest the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), has a strong set of connections in Stewart and owner/breeder Charles Fipke. Stewart also trained and co-campaigned Lemons Forever, who paid $96.20 for her Oaks victory at odds of 47-1.\\Fipke, a highly acclaimed geologist, has raced a number of other successful horses, including 2013 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) victor Java's War.
Unbridled Forever, a daugther of the late Unbridled's Song, broke her maiden on her second try last Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs by 5 1/4 lengths, and then followed up two months later with a 1 1/2-length score after stalking the pace in the Jan. 18 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The strapping bay may be lightly raced, but Stewart and Fipke stressed that was by design and not because of any health-related setbacks.
"If you look at the Kentucky Derby winners over the last 20 years, they all raced an average of five races before the Derby," said Fipke, a leading figure in the discovery of diamonds and precious stones in North America. "You don't want to wear them out."
Lemons Forever had a bit more experience under her belt than her daughter will heading into the Kentucky Oaks. She broke her maiden on her second try at Turfway Park as a 2-year-old, and then finished second and first, respectively in allowance optional claiming events at Louisiana Downs and Oaklawn Park.
In her final start prior to the Run for the Lilies, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid was third, beaten just a length in the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway. She won the Kentucky Oaks in her typical come-from behind fashion, rallying from the far outside post to secure a 1 1/2-length advantage at the wire.
Fipke purchased Lemons Forever for $2.5 million through agent R.J. Bennett at the conclusion of her race career at the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale from Eaton Sales, agent.
"I looked at all the high-end horses at the sale and I liked her conformation the most out of any other horse," said Fipke. "She's big, athletic, and long-cut. Just before she sold, they showed (a video) of her winning the Kentucky Oaks. I thought to myself, 'Oh my, she's going to be expensive.' And she was."
The same day Fipke bought Lemons Forever he met Stewart and formed a relationship with the trainer that led to the duo campaigning several other horses together, including last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) runner up Golden Soul.
The son of Perfect Soul could provide a stellar day for Stewart and Fipke March 29 if he delivers a victory in New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) on the same card as the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Fipke, who is optimistic about Unbridled Forever's chances in the latter race, said the filly was "gorgeous" as a foal.
"We had about two dozen 2-year-olds in her crop and I picked her as the nicest one we had," he explained of the filly, who was broken by J.B. McKathan in Ocala.
Even though Stewart can't find any poignant similarities between Unbridled Forever and her classic-winning dam, he agreed with Fipke about her looks.
"Unbridled Forever stands on her own in a beautiful way, and is a very nice filly mannerisms-wise," he said. "She trains pristine and is very easy to get to do what you want her to do."
Time will tell whether those traits will help Unbridled Forever reach the lilies.