Special is a word thrown around all too often in the world of thoroughbred horse racing, but today at Churchill Downs we may have seen a young horse that truly deserves the honor. Looking every bit the part of the best three-year-old on the grounds regardless of sex, Untapable made quick work of her competition at the top of the stretch and effortlessly cruised home in the 140th running of the Kentucky Oaks. In winning her third start without a loss this year, the bay daughter of Tapit claimed the lilies by defeating My Miss Sophia by 4 ½ impressive lengths.
The victory for the heavily favored filly gave popular rider Rosie Napravnik her second victory in the historic race. Two years earlier, she had become the first female rider to ever win the Oaks aboard Believe You Can. Meanwhile, beleaguered trainer Steve Asmussen, also collected his second Kentucky Oaks victory, having won with Summerly back in 2005.
Breaking sharply from the far outside post position, the Winchell Thoroughbreds charge was able to get a good outside stalking position in fourth behind the early speed of Sugar Shock. Looking strong on the backstretch, she continued to track the leader through an opening half mile in :47.80. As the field of twelve entered the far turn, it was clear that Untapable was running comfortably and ready to pounce. As My Miss Sophia collared a tiring Sugar Shock, the favorite made her move, and in an instant was moving quickly by the second choice. From there, Napravnik just kept her star to her business and the decision was never in doubt.
“She was really great today,” said the jubilant winning rider. “We ended up in great position from the outside post. She runs her best when she can get in a great stride. She relaxes so nice. She’s growing up and is maturing. She is magnificent.”
Final time for the nine furlongs over the fast track was 1:48.68, making it the fastest edition of the Oaks in eleven years. As the even money favorite, Untapable returned $4.00, $3.20, and $2.60 to her many supporters in the large Oaks Day crowd.
My Miss Sophia was the only filly to give the powerful winner any challenge at all, but could offer only mild opposition when Untapable was asked for her best run at the quarter pole. The lightly raced filly stayed on well down the stretch to finish 6 lengths clear of third place finisher Unbridled Forever. Rosalind, who was noticeably rambunctious before the race, closed late to complete the superfecta. But of course, this Kentucky Oaks was all about the winner.
A romping winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks and Rachel Alexandra this year, Untapable raised her career mark to 7-5-0-1.
As good as Untapable looked today, and all year for that matter, we are left to wonder what may have been if the filly had been points eligible for tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby. Similar to the situation five years ago when Rachel Alexandra destroyed her Oaks competition, the big win could instead lead to a starring role in the Preakness.
When asked about the possibility of the Preakness, Asmussen would only say that much depends on tomorrow’s performance of Tapiture, who also runs for the same owner-trainer combination.
No matter what happens tomorrow, you would have to think that Untapable will be one of the favorites. That is if her connections decide to run her in Baltimore, in hopes of emulating the 2009 Horse of the Year, who moved to the Asmussen barn soon after her win in the Oaks.