Winchell Thoroughbreds' Untapable sat a clean trip while wide down the backstretch, then pulled well clear of My Miss Sophia to win the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) by 4 1/2 lengths. The 3-year-old homebred filly by Tapit --Fun House, by Prized, was the even-money favorite May 2 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
She covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.68, just .04 of a second off the stakes record set in 2003 by Bird Town.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Asmussen won the Oaks in 2005 with Summerly.
"It feels great," said winning owner Ron Winchell. "We were here with Summerly in 2005. It's very important to us; owning the sire and the mare being a part of the family for so long."
"She's just a great filly," said Asmussen, whose stable has been the focus of recent allegations of horse abuse made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Untapable was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who won her second Oaks in the past three years. She was aboard 2012 winner Believe You Can.
"She was really great," Napravnik said of Untapable. "She got into a great stride and relaxed. She is magnificent.
"I wasn't worried about the post (outside 13) like some people were," she said. "We got into a great position. She has grown up and she is maturing.
"She came out of the paddock a little hot but she really calmed down when she got on the track and there was a lot more space and less people."
The race was delayed as Empress of Midway flipped in the gate and was on the ground inside the gate for quite some time. Jockey Corey Nakatani had to be pulled out of the starting gate by the crew. The daughter of Empire Maker was scratched from the race and taken back to the paddock.
"She (Empress of Midway) was in the gate and they were having a little trouble loading the favorite," said trainer Doug O'Neill. "They were smooching at her (Untapable) and it riled my filly up some. She false broke. Then she went down. Thank goodness she was smart enough to stay down and not move; she didn't go to thrashing. They got her out of there and we've got her back at the barn. She's fine. We'll fight another day."
All the fillies were taken out of the gate and jockeys were off their horses. It took several minutes for the riders to be remounted and reloaded into the gate. At that point Fashion Plate was unruly in the gate, but the field was sent on its way with jockey Gary Stevens with his feet out of the irons. The Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner broke in the air and trailed the field. Kiss Moon was also hampered at the start.
Prior to the original loading, Rosalind balked repeatedly and had to be helped by a pair of lead riders to the gate.
Untapable broke well from the outside post and settled fourth as Sugar Shock who took the early advantage in the Oaks and set the opening quarter-mile fraction of :23.67 while being followed by My Miss Sophia and Thank You Marylou. Untapable was out three to four paths wide and in the clear for the entire trip.
Sugar Shock carried the field down the backstretch as My Miss Sophia and Untapable gave chase. The six-furlong time was 1:12.24. Leaving the final turn it was down to My Miss Sophia and Untapable, but that changed quickly in the stretch as the winner was much the best.
"On this stage under circumstances...the filly in the gates, the paddock, how congested it is," said Asmussen. "The anxiety level once they backed them out and reloaded them took it to a whole new level but once she was away smoothly it was all good from there."
Untapable paid $4, $3.20, $2.60. My Miss Sophia paid $4.20 and $4.40, and Unbridled Forever, who was six lengths behind the runner-up, paid $6. The $2 exacta of 13-11 paid $21.80.
Unbridled Forever was followed by Rosalind, Thank You Marylou, Ria Antonia, Got Lucky, Sugar Shock, Aurelia's Belle, Please Explain, Fashion Plate, and Kiss Moon.
"I thought My Miss Sophia ran very well," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "She was well clear of the third-place horse. I'm very proud of her effort in just her fourth career start."
Untapable, winning her first grade I race, was the even-money favorite for a reason. In her two starts at 3 prior to the Oaks she won the 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by 9 1/2 lengths and the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 29 by 7 3/4 lengths.
At 2 she won two of four starts. She broke her maiden and took the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. She ran eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and third in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I).
Prior to the Oaks she worked a half-mile in :48 3/5 April 27.
The Oaks win was worth $576,600 bringing her career earnings to $1,124,725 with a 5-0-1 mark from seven starts.
Tapit, the sire of the Oaks winner, was raced by Winchell Thoroughbreds and ran ninth behind Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after winning the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I). The Winchell family has retained a significant portion of the leading sire that stands at Gainesway near Lexington.
Fun House, bred by the late Verne Winchell, won the 2004 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) and placed in six other stakes.
Untapable is the sixth foal out of Fun House and is a half sister to grade I winner Paddy O'Prado (by El Prado), who ran third behind Super Saver in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
"The dam, Fun House, she's one of our superstars," said Winchell.
"We sent Fun House to be bred back to Tapit this morning at 9 a.m.," said farm manager David Fiske. "Perhaps that was an omen."
Winchell and Asmussen were both glowing in their praise of the Oaks winner, but didn't want to speculate too much on her perhaps taking on the boys any time soon. Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tapiture will start for Asmussen in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) Saturday. Also by Tapit, Tapiture won the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park and was second in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) there before finishing fourth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I).
"It is just a great feeling," Napravnik said. "I am so thankful for Steve and for the Winchells having me on the filly. They have done such a great job. They take their time with this filly and she is just maturing. She is moving forward all the time and she was perfect today."
The attendance for the 140th running of the Oaks was reported as 113,071.