Moving boldly on the turn and into the lead under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Forever Unbridled held off Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Abel Tasman to score by a half-length. The daughter of Oaks winner Lemons Forever, who was trained and co-owned by Stewart, Forever Unbridled became the third Distaff winner for her sire Unbridled's Song following Unrivaled Belle (2010) and Stewart-trained Unbridled Elaine (2001).
"She left about 5 a.m. this morning and is heading back home to Kentucky," Stewart said. "She looks great and made herself a champion. She's three-for-three and we couldn't be prouder of what she's accomplished this year."
Plans call for the multiple grade 1 winner to ultimately join Stewart's New Orleans string at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots to prepare for a run at the world's richest race, the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1).
The win by Forever Unbridled pushed the late Taylor Made Farm stallion Unbridled's Song to the top of the Breeders' Cup progeny earnings board. He became the first stallion to eclipse $10 million, with his sixth World Championships winner ($10,802,400). Previous winners also include Midshipman (2008 Bessemer's Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile), Liam's Map (2015 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile), and last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate .
Trainer Bob Baffert said Distaff runner-up Abel Tasman also came out of her run well and indicated she will continue to race as a 4-year-old. Co-owned by the China Horse Club International and her breeder Clearsky Farms, the daughter of Quality Road made a strong rally from far back in the Distaff.
"It looked like she was coming and trying to get there," Baffert said. "I think we just got beat by a really good filly. Those two fillies in the paddock. The winner, she looked really great in the paddock. She looked really healthy. She looked strong. I thought 'wow.' I had never really seen her up close."
Champion Stellar Wind wrapped up her career with a disappointing last-place finish in the Distaff. A bobbling start compromised her chances, an issue that has plagued her in the most high-profile events, including the 2015 Kentucky Oaks and last year's Distaff.
"Stellar Wind looks OK," trainer John Sadler said this morning. "She stumbled a little bit, but it was more she was trapped on the inside and eating dirt, she coughed a lot after the race. She just was in the wrong place on the track all the time and never got comfortable."
Stellar Wind will head to the Keeneland November sale, where she will be offered as Hip 153 as part of the Lane's End consignment. She won six grade 1 events and her only off-the board finishes came in those three spots where she had bad starts—the Oaks and the last two Distaffs.
Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Battle of Midway was "doing great" Saturday morning according to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) heroine Rushing Fall was also in good order, according to trainer Chad Brown.