Untapable put the finishing touches on her memorable 3-year-old filly championship campaign when she won the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in a driving finish before a crowd of 37,205 Oct. 31 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Facing older rivals for the first time, Winchell Thoroughbreds' Kentucky homebred daughter of Tapit scored by 1 1/4 lengths over Don't Tell Sophia and Iotapa with jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Immediately after the race, Napravnik announced her retirement from racing on national television, effective after the completion of the Breeders' Cup Saturday, Nov. 1.
“My husband and I are starting a family and my retirement will start on Monday. I’m very excited," she said.
Untapable, the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner posted her fourth grade I win of the season while collecting her sixth triumph from seven starts overall this year.
Untapable was making her second start at Santa Anita after running eighth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Friday's victory was her eighth win from 11 lifetime starts and boosted her earnings to $2,996,725.
The bay filly out of the Prized mare Fun House was the 8-5 favorite in the field of 11. The running time for the 1 1/8-mile test was 1:48.68.
Making a sweeping move on the outside for Napravnik, Untapable grabbed the lead in the stretch after engaging a determined Iotapa. She lengthened stride under urging in the final furlong to win impressively.
The closing Don't Tell Sophia won a photo over Iotapa for second by a nose.
Asmussen said afterward that Untapable is to remain in training in 2015.
“I can’t say enough about her and how proud I am of her. I’m proud of the whole team, Rosie (jockey Napravnik), Scott (assistant trainer Blasi) and everyone. She’s an amazing mare to put us on this stage and to perform like she did.
"Rosie and she are a great combination and they have had a tremendous season. Today, definitely makes her a champion and that’s enough said. She’s had a great year and she’s a great filly. We had faith her. But, we’ve all been to the races, so you never know the outcome."
Untapable's sire, Tapit, set a single-season earnings mark with the Distaff victory, breaking a record set in 2007 by Smart Strike.
Iotapa did much of the hard work for jockey Joe Talamo, pushing pacesetter Tiz Midnight, who was hustled to the lead soon after the start, through a half mile in fractions of :22.93 and :46.73. Iotapa poked her head in front as they reached six furlongs in 1:10.95 and took a narrow lead out of the final turn.
It didn't last long, however, as Untapable, racing wide early and in sixth coming into the final turn while following second choice Close Hatches on the far outside, made her bid with a wide sweeping move.
"I wasn’t worried about being wide on the first turn not considering the amount of horse I knew I had underneath me,” Napravnik said.
Untapable easily swept by Close Hatches and engaged Iotapa in upper stretch. Those two battled to the eighth pole, with Untapable gaining a half-length advantage and edging away from there.
Don't Tell Sophia, who trailed the field after six furlongs and had about nine lengths to make up, rallied when angled to the outside by Joe Rocco Jr. for the drive and got up by a nose for second over Iotapa.
“My mare ran huge," Rocco said. "I am so proud of her. When we turned into the backstretch she popped over to her right lead on her own and I just kind of put her on hold for a few strides. She has a tremendous three-eighths kick and when we got to the three-eighths pole, I said, ‘Let’s go mama.’ I had no trouble in the race at all."
Untapable carried 121 pounds, three fewer than her older opponents, and paid $5.20, $3.40, and $2.60. Don't Tell Sophia returned $4.60 and $3.40 while completing a $27 exacta. Vanity Stakes (gr. I) winner Iotapa improved her career record at Santa Anita to 3-4-1 in eight starts for trainer John Sadler and paid $4 to show.
“I had a little thrill at the quarter pole, but the winner just got to us and went away," Talamo said. "I was laying perfect. My filly tried so hard, even when she was passed in the lane.”
Perplexing was the effort turned in by 3-1 shot Close Hatches, who faded to last after being in good position for Joel Rosario while racing wide on the far turn. With three grade I wins this season, Close Hatches posted her second disappointing effort in a row after finishing fourth in the Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 5.
“I didn’t like her position around the first turn, but I wouldn’t say that’s why we ran so dismal," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. "At the three-eighths pole, we had a length on Untapable. Our intent was to try to get the first run on her and we had no run at all. I can’t offer any excuse other than she looks like maybe she’s had enough.”
Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches ran second in last year's Distaff to champion Beholder, who missed this year's race with a recent illness.
The result provided a certain level of vindication for Asmussen, who along with Blasi was implicated in allegations earlier this year of horse abuse made by a former stablehand. He thanked owner Ron Winchell for sticking with him through the scandal.
Ria Antonia, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner, finished fourth after looming as a threat on the final turn. She was followed by Unbridled Forever, Tiz Midnight, Stanwyck, Valiant Emilia, Belle Gallantey, L'Amour de Ma Vie, and Close Hatches.