Red Oak Stable's homebred Unbridled Mo played the upsetter Jan. 29 in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3).
Three-time grade 1 winner and odds-on favorite I'm a Chatterbox loomed during the stretch run to the wire, but the Uncle Mo filly turned away her older, more accomplished rival with determination to win the 1 1/16-mile dirt test by 2 3/4 lengths at Sam Houston Race Park.
The top-finishing pair trailed the field during the backstretch running, as Unbridled Mo raced in fifth and I'm a Chatterbox, off at 1-2, took up the rear in the six-horse field, 6 1/2 lengths off leader Danzatrice.
Danzatrice set fractions of :23.37 and :47.55 through a half-mile, but soon after faded. Unbridled Mo took over to cover six furlongs in 1:11.52 and made a three-wide move in the final turn. I'm a Chatterbox traveled four- and five-wide in the final bend and pulled within a head with a furlong to run, but flattened out late as Unbridled Mo pulled away under jockey Jose Ortiz.
"She's a big filly, and as soon as she got into that big stride at the three-eighths pole, I knew I had a chance to win," said Ortiz, who won three of the five stakes Sunday on the "Houston Racing Festival" card at Sam Houston. "When I'm a Chatterbox came outside of me, I said, 'OK, let me go left-handed now' and when I went left-handed, she responded very well."
The 4-year-old filly, out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Waters, hit the wire in 1:42.89 to collect her second grade 3 win. Her first came in the 2016 Monmouth Oaks (G3) Aug. 20 at Monmouth Park. She now has five wins from seven starts and $466,180 in earnings for trainer Todd Pletcher.
"We're very fortunate," said Red Oak owner John Brunetti. "What you have to do is, you have to have the best horse, best rider, best trainer and that day is yours. I can't wait to get her in the breeding shed, but she's got some more work to do."
I'm a Chatterbox, the winner of last year's Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) and Delaware Handicap (G1), now has more than $2.3 million in earnings with her second-place finish. Grade 2 winner Family Tree checked in third in the Houston Ladies Classic, another 1 1/4 lengths back.