The precocious third foal out of the Kentucky Oaks winner, a bay filly by Unbridled's Song, broke her maiden Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs by 5 1/4 lengths second time out in her most recent start, that contest a seven-furlong event on a fast track. In preparation for the mile and 70-yard Silverbulletday, Stewart has tuned her up with three five-furlong moves since her arrival in New Orleans after the Churchill meet; the last a Jan. 12 work in 1:00 3/5.
"She's hit the mark we've set for her three weeks in a row now," Stewart said. "I'm very happy with her fitness level now since we gave her a little bit of time coming into this race."
Does Unbridled Forever remind Stewart of her mother?
"She's fast just like her mother," the trainer remarked. "And we've been stretching her out in her works to get her ready to go a mile and 70 yards this time."
Unbridled Forever will be ridden by Robby Albarado with a 116-pound impost from the 2 hole in the Silverbulletday, one of five stakes on "Road to the Derby Kickoff Day" at the Crescent City oval. The race with a 3:25 p.m. CDT post time is the first of Fair Grounds' sophomore filly series that concludes with the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II). It carries a 10-4-2-1 value on the road to the May 2 Kentucky Oaks.
Six 3-year-old fillies entered the Silverbulletday, with Indiana-bred Express Model toting highweight of 122 pounds from the rail. LTB Inc & Hillerich Racing's homebred daughter of Unbridled Express already has five starts under her belt, including an Indiana Stallion Stakes victory last September. She was runner-up in the Miss Indiana Stakes in October for trainer Bernard Flint at Indiana Downs, and came back Dec. 29 with a second by a half-length in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance at Fair Grounds.
Trainer Larry Jones has a live contender in Brereton Jones' undefeated homebred Divine Beauty, a daughter of Divine Park who broke her maiden in September at Churchill and came back Dec. 21 to take the six-furlong Letellier Memorial Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths at Fair Grounds. Rosie Napravnik gets the mount from the outside; Divine Beauty carries 120 pounds.
Istanford was also assigned a 120-pound impost, breaking from the 4 hole under James Graham. The daughter of Istan, who races for Ike and Dawn Thrash and Janet and Sam Alley, won a Dec. 19 allowance at about a mile on the Fair Grounds turf by 2 3/4 lengths. That followed a respite after a fifth-place finish in the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes at Arlington Park on the Polytrack in September. She broke her maiden by five lengths on the turf at Arlington first time out back in August, and tries dirt for the first time for trainer Michael Stidham.
Gus King's maiden winner Awesome Jill and Glockenburg's maiden winner Army complete the lineup.
$125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (Race 7, approximate post 3:25 p.m. CDT), 3YO fillies, 1 mile and 70 yards (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Express Model (IN), R.E. Eramia, 122, B S Flint
2. Unbridled Forever (KY), R. Albarado, 116, D Stewart
3. Army (KY), A. Reznikov, 116, P Vashchenko
4. Istanford (FL), J. Graham, 120, M Stidham
5. Awesome Jill (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 116, M Lovell
6. Divine Beauty (KY), R. Napravnik, 120, J L Jones