Forever Unbridled to Return in Fleur de Lis
By Mary LaRue, courtesy Blood-Horse
Two-time grade 1 winner Forever Unbridled is scheduled to return after seven months away from the track in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) June 17 at Churchill Downs, her first race since finishing third in last year's Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1).
The Charles Fipke homebred won three graded stakes in a row from November 2015 through April 2016, topping that string with her first grade 1 score in the Apple Blossom Handicap going 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park.
The daughter of Unbridled's Song then placed second in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) behind Cavorting at Belmont Park and third in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course, a race also won by Cavorting. Forever Unbridled vindicated herself next with a win in the grade 1 Beldame Stakes going 1 1/8 miles back at Belmont.
Her third-place Distaff finish also was impressive as she finished 1 1/4 lengths behind multiple champions Beholder and Songbird, who hit the wire a nose apart.
Although Forever Unbridled will not face the same class in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, the Dallas Stewart trainee will not have it easy when she takes on eight other fillies and mares as the field's highweight.
Big World comes into the race for trainer Tom Amoss off a win in the May 5 La Troienne Stakes Presented by Spirited Funds (G1) at 1 1/16 miles on the Louisville oval. Maggi Moss' Louisiana-bred Big World is on a four-race win streak that started in the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots' Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes and was topped by the 4-year-old filly's successful first graded attempt in the La Troienne.
The daughter of Custom for Carlos has never finished worse than third in compiling a record of seven wins and four third-place finishes from 11 starts at seven different tracks.
Trainer George Arnold will send out two runners in Romantic Vision, runner up in the La Troienne behind Big World; and last year's Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Weep No More.
G. Watts Humphrey's 5-year-old Romantic Vision has yet to score at the graded level, but her most recent start provides promise. The Lemon Drop Kid mare, a winner at the allowance/optional-claiming level, placed fifth in in last year's Locust Grove Stakes (G3) and Falls City Handicap (G2) at Churchill.
Ashbrook Farm's Weep No More has gone unplaced in four starts since her Ashland victory. Three of those four races were at the grade 1 level, including a seventh in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The Mineshaft filly finished fifth in Churchill's Matron Stakes (G3) May 20 in her 2017 debut. Walkabout, another Fleur de Lis entrant, took that race.
Whitham Thoroughbreds' Walkabout, trained by Ian Wilkes, is two-for-two in 2017. The 4-year-old Stroll filly won an optional-claiming allowance at Keeneland April 12 before rallying from far back to take the Matron by a neck.
The Fleur de Lis also includes Phipps Stable's graded stakes winner Carrumba, trained by Shug McGaughey; and the Bill Mott-trained Apologynotaccepted, who is three-for-three this year, taking those races by a combined 16 lengths.