Johnny Velazquez and Forever Unbridled captured the Breeders’ Cup Distaff after an extremely controversial week.
It was a very controversial week for Charles Fipke, owner of Forever Unbridled. But the decision to switch jockey from Joel Rosario to Johnny Velazquez proved to be one that may have helped Forever Unbridled, as she won the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff by half a length over Abel Tasman.
The five-year-old mare won for the third time in as many starts this year. Her last start was an upset victory over 2016 three-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga.
Velazquez had a game plan and with some adjustment, worked the plan to perfection.
“The whole key was I wanted to save ground on the first turn and I was able to do that,” said Velazquez. “I got her in a comfortable position where I thought she was going well. At the three-eighths pole, I followed Jose Ortiz’s horse (Elate) and all of a sudden she stopped and I had to go a little sooner than I wanted to. I got to the lead a little too soon for me but, I mean, it was perfect.”
It is Forever Unbridled in the Distaff! pic.twitter.com/OgSr4S7ZuJ
— Alicia Wincze Hughes (@BH_AHughes) November 3, 2017
Velazquez picked up the mount after Fipke decided to make a change from Joel Rosario.
“I phoned him (Velazquez)” Fipke said. “both him and me we’re a little bit of businessmen. So we had our little business meeting, and came to an agreement. So that’s all.”
Rosario had the call to ride Forever Unbridled so the Del Mar stewards ruled that Fipke must pay double jock mount to Rosario. With the victory, Rosario earned $110,000 by watching the race from the jocks room.
It was the second Breeders Cup Distaff victory for trainer Dallas Stewart. Ironically, he was also part of a late switch controversy with the eventual Distaff winner. In 2001, a week before the Distaff, Stewart was given back Unbridled Elaine by owner Roger Devenport from trainer David Vance. She ran with Stewart listed as trainer and defeated defending champion Spain by a head.
After the race, Fipke announced that Forever Unbridled will stay in training next year at age six. Fipke will consider racing her in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.
“We’re definitely going to be considering it. Yeah. That would be the goal. But we’ll look at all the buyers, who is also in the race.”
Late Friday night, it was announced that Ulysses, the 7-2 morning line favorite in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, has been scratched from the race per recommendation from the track veterinarians