Unbridled is one of thoroughbred racing’s greatest champions. The horse had a tremendous run that culminated in over $4 million dollars in earnings. He is best remembered as a winner of the Kentucky Derby and for his rivalry with Summer Squall. Unbridled went on to have a successful stud career and sire numerous other champions. In a sad turn of events, Unbridled’s life was cut short by a bout of colic.
A Horse Born to Run
Unbridled was foaled in the state of Florida, a home of numerous racing champions. The date of his foaling, March 5, 1987, made him almost a true two-year-old when he began his racing career. The breeder of the horse was Tartan Stable, and Unbridled was owned by Frances A. Genter. It was decided that the horse would be sent to Carl Nafzger for training. Nafzger would later become famous for training Street Sense to a win in the Kentucky Derby.
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The horse had impressive breeding. He was sired by the legendary Fappiano who won 10 races from 17 starts. Unbridled also had Mr. Prospector in his pedigree. Mr. Prospector is a Sire of Sires and one of the most successful to every stand at stud.
The name given to the horse was a reflection of his love for running. Unbridled had a way of running that indicated his love for competition. He ran free, and his name reflected that. Jockey Pat Day was given the mount on Unbridled for his career, and the two of them had tremendous success from the very start.
Unbridled’s Racing Career
Unbridled began his career at the age of two and was immediately successful. The colt placed in all six of his starts that year, and along the way captured the What a Pleasure Stakes. The performances were enough to inspire Unbridled’s connections to make a serious run at the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown series in 1990.
One of the most significant wins notched by the colt occurred in his home state of Florida. Unbridled took the Florida Derby in stunning fashion, establishing himself as a true contender for the Kentucky Derby. His victory came by more than four lengths, and Nafzger and company set their sites on the Blue Grass Stakes as a final prep for the Kentucky Derby.
It was in the Blue Grass Stakes that Unbridled would tangle with the horse that would become his most celebrated rival, Summer Squall. In the running of the Blue Grass Stakes, Unbridled was no match for Summer Squall and finished second. Some believed Summer Squall was the better horse and would win the Kentucky Derby. These thoughts were bolstered by the fact that Pat Day would not be taking the mount on Unbridled for the Kentucky Derby. The colt would instead be ridden by Craig Perret, a rider who was perceived to be of less talent than Day.
Perret came through in the Kentucky Derby, defeating Summer Squall by a short margin. Nafzger was overcome with emotion during the Kentucky Derby and embraced owner Genter in front of the television cameras. There would be no such celebration at the Preakness Stakes, however. Summer Squall returned to defeat Unbridled in that race. Unbridled ran a spirited second, setting up a deciding contest in the Belmont Stakes. This race was not to be. Summer Squall skipped the Belmont due to the restrictions in New York on the use of Lasix. The horses would finish their rivalry with Summer Squall winning 4 of their 6 meetings.
In the Breeders’ Cup Classic of that same year, Unbridled returned to form and won the Classic. The horse was then given the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old.
Unbridled at Stud
Unbridled retired from racing at the age of four and entered stud. He was amazingly successful and sired 183 winners, 38 of whom won stakes. His progeny earned an impressive $31 million by the year 2000. Among his most successful offspring were Grindstone and Empire Maker.
Unbridled had a relatively short life compared to other racing champions. He was stricken in 2001 with colic and was forced to undergo multiple operations. The surgeries were in vain and Unbridled was humanely destroyed.
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