Because of a late final jockey decision ahead of the Breeders' Cup World Championships draw, California's two jockey fee rule will apply to Charles Fipke, owner of Forever Unbridled.
Fipke will send out Forever Unbridled under the dual jockey fee rule in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 3 at Del Mar. In a final decision that, according to the California stewards was reached Oct. 30—the day of the draw—the jockey of Forever Unbridled was changed from Joel Rosario to John Velazquez. The stewards determined that Rosario had an agreement in place to ride Forever Unbridled before the late change.
California steward Kim Sawyer said a California racing policy requires two jockeys to be paid—including any money for a top placing in the race—when the timing of a jockey change does not allow enough time for the replaced rider to find an alternate mount.
The stewards also considered applying the rule to another change made just before the draw—Mongolian Stable opting to have Florent Geroux ride Mongolian Saturday instead of Javier Castellano in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T)—but after talking with the assistant trainer and trainer the morning of Nov. 2, the stewards decided the rule did not apply in that case.
Rosario guided Forever Unbridled to graded stakes victories in her only two starts this season, including a strong rally in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course to edge two-time champion Songbird.
Rosario's agent, Ron Anderson, said he was informed of the change Monday, just hours before the draw.
"Mr. Fipke gave no explanation for the change," said veteran agent Anderson. "In all my years, I've never seen a more inexplicable change. The ride that Joel gave Forever Unbridled in the Personal Ensign was flawless; one of the greatest rides I've ever seen."
Anderson said he'll be rooting for Forever Unbridled, as it would put money in his pocket and Rosario's, but he'd much prefer to have his rider competing in the race, noting the work involved to be in the position to ride a top Breeders' Cup contender.
Velazquez, a Hall of Fame rider, rode Forever Unrbridled to wins in the 2016 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and the 2015 Comely Stakes (G3). He has won 13 Breeders' Cup races and has earned more than $23.2 million in Breeders' Cup purses, which ranks second in Breeders' Cup history. Rosario has won five Breeders' Cup races and has earned more than $10.1 million in purses in the event.
Castellano is the reigning four-time Eclipse Award winner while Geroux guided Mongolian Saturday to victory in the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland.