Untapable remained perfect in two starts with a determined half-length victory over Stonetastic in Saturday night’s 45th running of the Grade II, $168,150 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik and trained by Steve Asmussen, Untapable ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.38 and banked $101,125 for the win. Additionally, the Pocahontas is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, which means Untapable has secured a starting spot and travel allowance to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
She also is the early points-leader on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The Pocahontas was the first of 15 “Kentucky Oaks Prep Season” races in which points are awarded to the Top 4 finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
The victory didn’t come easy. Breaking from the inside post in a field of eight 2-year-old fillies, Untapable tracked early pacesetters Elena Strikes and Milam from the inside and appeared to be unsettled, throwing her head, as they rounded the first turn in :23.73.
After the leaders ran a half in :48.40 and six furlongs in 1:12.50, New Jersey-invader Stonetastic, the 8-5 favorite under Joe Bravo, made the first run from the outside into the final turn and gained a short lead at the head of the lane. Simultaneously, Napravnik sat chilly on Untapable until an opening developed at the top the stretch. Untapable angled out with a quarter mile to run, drew even with Stonetastic with a sixteenth of a mile to run and closed well to get up in time.
Untapable, sent to the post as the 5-1 third betting choice, paid $13.60, $6.20 and $5. Stonetastic, made the favorite after scintillating 12 ½-length career debut at Monmouth Park, returned $4 and $3.60. Rosalind, a 14-1 outsider, rallied for third to finish two length behind the runner-up and paid $6.60.
Milam, Harlan’s Special, Elena Strikes, Redheaded Witch and Nevada Deputy completed the order of finish.
Untapable’s final time of 1:44.48 was :01.27 faster than 2-year-old colt Cleburne ran a race later while winning the $171,750 Iroquois (GIII).
Untapable was bred in Kentucky by her owner Ron Winchell. A bay Tapit filly out of the Prized mare Fun House, she is a half-sister to Grade I-winner Paddy O’Prado, the third-place finisher in the 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
The Pocahontas was Untapable’s first race in 79 days. She previously won her career bow at Churchill Downs on June 20.
This was the second Pocahontas win for both the jockey and trainer. Napravnik rode Sign to victory a year ago. Asmussen saddled Punch Appeal to success in 2004.
STEVE ASMUSSEN, trainer of UNTAPABLE (winner): “I think she’s a very special filly. That was a huge move considering she had one sprint race. We had planned on running her once at Saratoga, but it didn’t work out. She’s not short on ability, but definitely a little short on experience.
“She was pretty headstrong (on the backstretch), but about halfway down the backstretch she dropped the bridle and you could tell she was going along smooth enough. But I thought once she dropped the bridle, she didn’t really know where to go after that.”
“When she finally got out in the stretch she really hesitated, and I think it was just not knowing to go and having to wait so much. When she got up to even terms (with Stonetastic) she kind of leveled back off a bit.
Q: She’s earned the spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Is that the plan? “Yes.”
ROSIE NAPRAVNIK, rider on UNTAPABLE (winner): “She was awesome.”
Q: She was a little erratic down the lane, but finally got by … “She did that a little bit in her first race. I started out hitting her left-handed, then when I hit pushed her right-handed she wanted to lean-in, but I couldn’t stop riding her. I wanted to get the win.”
Q: Did you feel like you were going to get there? “I did. She’s a very, very talented filly and it was a lot to ask of her: second time out, she hadn’t run in a couple of months, and running two turns against winners.”
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014, and has two more racing meets in 2013: the first September Meet scheduled for Sept. 6-29 and its Fall Meet, which runs from Oct. 27-Nov. 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.