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Champion Big Brown to stand in New York

Champion and dual classic winner Big Brown will stand the 2015 season in New York at location to be determined, it was announced on Wednesday.

A majority interest in the nine-year-old son of Boundary, the sire of nine 2014 stakes winners to date, has been acquired by Andrew Cohen’s Sunrise Stables and Gary Tolchin’s Golden Goose Enterprises. Both were principals in the ownership of Big Brown during his racing career along with IEAH Stables, Paul Pompa and Pegasus Holdings Group.

Big Brown will stand his first season in New York for an introductory fee of $8,500. Sunrise and Golden Goose, which developed and stand record-breaking New York freshman sire Frost Giant, will announce the location where Big Brown will stand in the near future. The bay horse has stood his entire stud career at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky since 2009.

“In becoming the first horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby from post 20…Big Brown showed us what an extraordinary runner he was, and his Preakness Stakes  victory was just as impressive,” Cohen said. “As a sire, he has given us stakes winners at a wide variety of distances and surfaces, and he has had Grade/Group I runners in three countries. Some of his most successful performers have been New York-breds and/or from New York-bred connections. We believe that between Big Brown and Frost Giant, we are offering New York breeders the best stallion choices for their mares.”

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Big Brown was famously pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux during his bid for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes but returned to win the Grade I Haskell and the Monmouth Stakes on turf before his retirement in the fall of 2008 with earnings of $3,614,500.

Currently, Big Brown is tied for second behind Curlin among all third-crop sires in North America with his nine 2014 stakes winners, and his progeny have earned $3,342,697 this year, ranking him seventh overall among his peers. Overall, Big Brown has sired 11 stakes winners in his first three crops of racing age, an additional nine stakes-placed runners and the earners of over $7,397,000.

Mandy Pope adds Aloof to broodmare band for $3.9 million

The elite broodmare band Mandy Pope is compiling for her Whisper Hill Farm operation got another All-Star addition  Wednesday as Pope went to $3.9 million to obtain beautifully-bred Aloof early in the second session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale.

Consigned by Paramount Sales, Aloof is a daughter of international leading sire Galileo and is out of the champion Group I winning mare Airwave. The 5-year-old Aloof showed her class on the track in becoming a Group III winner and had even more appeal as she sold in foal to top Claiborne sire, War Front.

“A lovely mare out of an outstanding family,” said Pope, who has secured such top mares as Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and champion Groupie Doll in recent years. “(The price) was about twice what I had hoped she would for. But Galileo is the best stallion, he and Tapit, and in foal to War Front, you couldn’t ask for anything more. And she was beautiful and leggy which I think will help because War Front’s tend to be a little plain.

“I hope she has a pretty War Front. She better,” Pope joked “Or I’ll send her back to Paramount.”

The appeal of a Galileo mare is one Pope has already aggressively gone after before. She purchased Betterbetterbetter, another daughter of Galileo in foal to War Front, for a sale-topping $5.2 million at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

“We’re trying to get the European flair going,” said Pope, who added that Aloof would likely go back to War Front in 2015.

Pat Costello of Paramount Sales said that final price exceeded his expectations but that he wasn’t surprised to see such a bidding war break out over a mare of Aloof’s residual quality.

“It was two strong bidders right there and both of them loved her,” Costello said. “She was a queen all week, we knew she’d sell well. She’s a scopy mare and to do what she did on the racetrack was just an addition. Couldn’t be a better feeling.”

Coolmore Stud goes to $3.6 million for Naples Bay

Graded stakes winner Naples Bay, a half sister to Grade I winner and Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro, set the standard during the first session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale when she sold for a $3.6 million to representatives of Coolmore Stud.

Consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent, Naples Bay sold in foal to leading Claiborne stallion War Front. The six-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway won the Grade III Marshua’s River Stakes in January before being bred and also captured the 2012 Grade III Noble Damsel.

“She comes from a great family. She’s in foal to War Front so we’re looking forward to seeing that,” said Coolmore’s M. V. Magnier, who signed the ticket. “She could easily go back to (Coolmore sire) Galileo but we’ll decide that. She deserved to make that price.”

Walker Hancock of Claiborne said that Naples Bay, who is out of the stakes winning mare Cappucino Bay, “had every quality to be a great broodmare.”

Naples Bay highlighted an afternoon that also saw the global ambitions of China Horse Club show themselves inside the Keeneland pavilion as representatives of the racing and business lifestyle club went to $2.8 million to obtain multiple Grade I winner Iotapa for its ever-expanding operation.

Founded by Teo Ah Khing, the architect who designed Dubai’s massive Meydan Racecourse, China Horse Club has been aggressively buying horses across the globe and most notably partnered with Coolmore Stud on ownership of beautifully bred English and Irish Derby winner, Australia.

Iotapa fit the bill as a most desirable addition to the program. The dark bay daughter of Afleet Alex won the Grade I Vanity and Clement L. Hirsch this summer and was most recently third behind Grade I winners Untapable and Don’t Tell Sophia in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“She may be part of our program here in America. But the purpose very much is we are promoting the best of racing and the best lifestyle elements of what we do to our audience, our members,” said Eden Harrington, general manager of China Horse Club. “Breeding is certainly part of our operation. And this is the biggest marketplace there is for breeding so in due course it would make sense, and a mare of this stature would make sense.”






Grade I winner Egg Drop sells to Bridlewood for $1.9 million

Few mares on the Keeneland sales grounds are more beautiful than Grade I winner Egg Drop. The daughter of Alphabet Soup set another standard others in November Breeding Stock auction will have to chase as she became the first offering in this year’s Keeneland sale to hit seven figures, selling to Bridlewood Farm for $1.9 million on Tuesday.

Campaigned by the Little Red Feather Racing partnership, Egg Drop sold in foal to leading sire Tapit, adding to her already standout physical appeal. The 5-year-old gray mare won three straight graded stakes to close out her breakout 2013 campaign, including a victory in the Grade I Matriarch, and was second in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes this February  before being bred to Tapit.

“Bridlewood is now owned by (billionaire John Malone) and we’re trying to build a special program one horse at a time,” said longtime Bridlewood manager George Isaacs after signing the ticket. “This is literally our second mare. We bought Concinnous (for $2 million) last night (at Fasig-Tipton). We want to build a broodmare band of about 20-25 special mares…and this mare had all the ingredients we are looking for.

“She’s an alpha physical, beautiful mare, very good pedigree, great race record. And in foal to a top sire. She was right below what we thought we’d have to pay.”

Bill Koch, founder and managing partner for Little Red Feather Racing, found himself fighting tears shortly after seeing the partnership’s big mare change hands. Egg Drop, who retired with six wins from 13 starts and $534,020 in earnings, was the first Grade I winner for Little Red Feather since their upset 2004 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Singletary.

“We just know what a fabulous mare she is how much she means to all our partners,” Koch said, welling up with tears. “There’s a lot of mixed emotions but she’s going to a great home and we love her and we’re so pleased with the people who bought her.

“You know how hard it is to get a filly like that, with so much courage and so much heart. When you’re in a partnership, it’s hard sometimes. But you have to do the right thing and we knew that some day this would probably have to happen. It was a difficult decision…and we can ultimately reinvest in the industry and keep (the partnership) going that way.”





Princess of Sylmar overcomes polarizing market to top Fasig-Tipton sale

The parade of horseflesh inside the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion Monday night equated to a jaw-dropping equine All-Star game with top mare after brilliant distaffer following one another into the ring often with seven-figure dust in their wake.

As expected, it one of the Kentucky Oaks winners being offered that ended up the top girl once more in her career. For more than a few high profiled offerings, however, the market wasn’t strong enough to override the emotional ties their connections had wrapped up in them.

Owner Ed Stanco couldn’t bear to watch in person as his multiple Grade I winner Princess of Sylmar sold Monday night, but the 4-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior did him proud once more, bringing a final bid of $3.1 million from representatives of Japan’s Shadai Farm to top a Fasig-Tipton November auction filled with quality but peppered with polarization.

Even though the sale’s expected star, champion Beholder, was not able to offered for sale due a lingering illness that knocked her out of this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the November catalog still ranked as one of Fasig-Tipton’s best. A total of 23 fillies and mares hit the seven figure mark – almost even with the 24 that reached that level during the 2013 exercise – with 12 selling for $2 million or more.

Who didn’t sell, though, was almost as notable.

Four horses failed to meet their reserves despite bringing bid for $2 million or more  – including 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, who is in foal to leading sire Tapit but will end up going home to Airdrie Stud after falling short of her reserve with a bid of $4.9 million, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Grade I winner Stephanie’s Kitten, who will go back into training for them after getting hammered down for $3.95 million, short of the $3.99 million reserve the Ramseys put on her.

“We brought her up here knowing full well that what we put on her was an extremely high reserve and I believe she is worth an extremely high reserve,” said Airdrie Stud owner Brereton Jones, who bred and campaigned Believe You Can. “Most people would probably say ‘You’re just being too greedy’ and I can understand that because that’s a tremendous amount of money.

“But we love the filly. They’re not just dollars and cents to us. I’m not the least bit saddened about taking her home. Some horses you need to sell more than others.”

A diverse group of international and domestic buyers stretched themselves at the top end with Kentucky-based Summer Wind Farm landing Grade I winner Sweet Lulu in foal to War Front for $3 million while champion She’s a Tiger, who went to Northern Farm in Japan for $2.5 million, is among those mares heading overseas.

The numbers reflected some all or nothing action. The average of $589,611 showed a 2.98 percent increase over the 2013 but the overall gross of $63,678,000 was down 13.78 percent from 2013 while the median dipped from $250,000 a year ago to $200,000.

A total of 44 horses failed to meet their reserves, up from 34 in 2013.

“I think it was a very similar marketplace to what we saw last year,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I think every horse at that level is unique and a couple of those horses, there were some emotional connections to those horses. Those sellers were not in need to sell situations.

“At the top of the market, people continue to bid with restraint. It was more fun when it was irrational at the top but it’s probably healthier with some level of rationality.”

Browning also pointed out that the yearly variations that come with a boutique breeding stock sale make apples-to-apples comparisons from year to year more challenging than in the yearling marketplace.

There was no challenging the quality that Princess of Sylmar brought to the table. The chestnut filly captured the 2013 Kentucky Oaks to begin a string of four straight Grade I triumphs and was retired this summer with nine wins from 15 starts and  more than $2 million in career earnings.


After opening with a bid of $1 million, Princess of Sylmar kept the board inching forward in $100,000 increments. Patrick Barbe, a representative of Shadai Farm, said they only jumped in on the final bid, which proved to be the winning one.

“I thought she was worth a little more but that was a fair price,” said Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales, which consigned both Princess of Sylmar and six other seven figure offerings.


“She was special. I think if she could have run back to her 3-year-old form those last few races, she could have brought more. But  She was in the same class as  (champions) Havre de Grace and Ashado who we consigned, she had a presence.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Tapit to stand for $300,000 in 2015

Leading sire Tapit, who has already set the North American single-season record for progeny earnings, will stand for an advertised fee of $300,000 in 2015 Gainesway announced on Monday. The figure is double what the son of Pulpit stood for during the 2014 breeding season.

Tapit is far and away the leading sire in North America with a record $15,246,849 in progeny earnings, led by four-time Grade I Winner and recent Breeders’ Cup Distaff victor Untapable ($2,996,725).

Tapit becomes the first stallion to command a $300,000 since Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, and Distorted Humor all stood for that mark in 2008. A. P. Indy was slated to stand for $300,000 in 2009 but had his fee adjusted down before the breeding season to $250,000 due to the economic crash that hit in 2008. Other stallions that have stood for $300,000  in the last decade include Giant’s Causeway, Kingmambo, and Distorted Humor.

The late Storm Cat stood for a high of $500,000 from 2002-2007.

In addition to likely champion Untapable, Tapit also is the sire of this year’s Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist and currently has 16 stakes winner total in 2014.

“He just continues to produce the goods,” Gainesway’s Michael Hernon said of Tapit shortly after Untapable’s triumph in the Distaff this past Friday. “He’s remarkable. He’s the king of the stallions here in the U.S. in my opinion. He moves his mares up, he gives (his offspring) this great will and determination, they’re great competitors at any and all levels. He gets colts, fillies, turf, dirt, synthetic, it doesn’t matter.

“But the single attribute he gives them in my opinion is the will to win and that ability to fight. He’s just a gift and we’re so delighted.”

A grade I winner on the track himself, Tapit was campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, who still own a half interest in him.






Baffert: ‘Never seen such animosity over a horse race’

The fallout from Bayern’s controversial  victory in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park continued to come down Sunday, with the stewards explaining their decision why they unanimously decided not to disqualify the Bob Baffert trainee after he broke inward to the left out of post No. 7, slamming into champion and race favorite Shared Belief at the start.

In a press conference Sunday, steward Scott Chaney said that while all three stewards agreed there was significant contact at the start, they ruled it did not cost the horse or horses interfered with a better placing at that specific point in the race.

“We actually got an all clear from our quick official who is our guy on the track,” Chaney explained. “No riders objected so we went back, looked at the start and saw the incident. We put up the inquiry sign and conducted our normal inquiry into such things.

“These are governed by specific CHRB rules.  So you have to determine No. 1, was there interference which we did. And then we had to determine most specifically if it happened at a point in the race, which is the start, where it cost No. 6 Shared Belief and/or No. 4 Moreno the opportunity at a better placing. We voted unanimously it didn’t happen at a point in the race where it was reasonable to speculate that they didn’t finish in a position they would be reasonably expected to finish. That’s the language of the rule.”

Shared Belief, who was unbeaten in seven previous career starts, ended up fourth while fellow Grade I winner Moreno, whom Shard Belief bumped into  after being hit by Bayern, finished last in the field of 14. Moreno, known for his early speed, was expected to press Bayern on the front end.

Chaney said the stewards talked to Mike Smith who was aboard Shared Belief and Martin Garcia who rode Bayern but did not talk to Moreno’s jockey, Javier Castellano.

“I’m sure any interference probably changes the outcome to some extent,” Chaney said. “For us, especially at the start of a 1 1/4 miles race, we are really loath to involved, No. 1 and No. 2 to speculate whether if the horse was a front runner or come from behind horse , how it kind of affected them. The fact Moreno might have pressed Bayern on the lead is not the type of speculation we want to engage in or what you want us to engage is.”

The controversy overshadowed the fact that Bayern, in edging out Toast of New York and dual classic winner California Chrome for the win, gave Baffert his first Breeders’ Cup Classic win of his Hall of Fame career and capped off a stellar 3-year-old campaign that saw the son of Offlee Wild win four graded stakes at four different tracks this season including the Grade I Haskell Invitational.

“I have never seen such animosity over a horse race,” Baffert told the Breeders’ Cup notes team on Sunday. “It seems like people forgot how to watch a race. If the stewards had not posted the inquiry,  there would not have been one.

“The sad part about all this is it distracts from what (Bayern) did yesterday. It’s not like he’s a fluke. He can do it all an he’s a fighter. At the Preakness, Ria Antonia got us right out of the gate but I didn’t cry about it.”

Baffert added that Bayern as well as the rest of his Breeders’ Cup runners came out of their efforts in good order Sunday.

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer and co-owner of Shared Belief, did not comment on the stewards’ decision but said the reigning juvenile champion “came out okay” and would return to his base at Golden Gate Fields to be freshened.

Toast of New York, who edged California Chrome for second in the Classic, was well on Sunday and likely will be pointed to the $10 million Dubai World Cup in 2015.

Trainer Art Sherman said that Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was also good but that future plans for the colt had not yet been finalized.

“It was a great race for him, a game race to get beat by a neck,” Sherman said.

Bayern scores controversial victory in Breeders’ Cup Classic

ARCADIA, Ca. – The end result of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic was Bayern getting his nose down in front of two fellow sophomores who had tracked his every stride around the Santa Anita Park oval, proving his supposed distance limitations were bunk and giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his first win in the 1 1/4-miles race along with the ultimate salve to week that featured a massive blow.

Beyond the black and white results was a reality that was so much messier than that. Bayern got his due, but it came with others screaming in his wake he had cost them theirs.
“I thought…this has been so long waiting, please Lord you can’t it away from me now,” Baffert said.

The stewards at Santa Anita Park did not in fact take away Bayern’s narrow Classic triumph over Toast of New York and dual classic winner California Chrome. They allowed the final order to stand after an inquiry despite a head-on view that showed that Bayern basically made a left turn into Shared Belief after breaking out of post No. 7, slamming into the previously unbeaten champion who then ricochetted into Moreno en route to off-the-board finishes for both.

Shared Belief, sent off as the favorite, did gather himself to sit sixth down the backside but could only muster a fourth-place finish when called upon by jockey Mike Smith.

A statement from the stewards said that “after speaking with the patrol judges and riders involved, it was our unanimous decision that pursuant to CHRB Rule 1699, that the incident occurred in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they were reasonably expected to finish.”

The connections of Shared Belief – who was seeking his eighth win in as many starts and a championship-clinching victory – said otherwise.

“I think it cost me the race,” said Mike Smith, jockey of Shared Belief. “I was never able to get comfortable after getting hit at the break. I kept getting bounced around all the way around the turn and Moreno kept getting out and bumped through the backside. Even so, he ran a dynamite race.”

Martin Garcia, who was aboard Bayern, said “the ground broke, and then my horse just broke really sharp.  I just, there was nothing I could do. I corrected right away…but he was pretty clear.”

The cloud hanging over Bayern’s Classic win is right in line with the taxing week Baffert already endured. On Tuesday morning, Baffert had to deliver what he termed some of the most disappointing news of his career when he declared multiple Grade I winner American Pharoah, the morning-line favorite for the Juvenile, out to the race with a possible foot bruise.
Call it a case of one door opening when another closes.

Like his former stablemate, multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude who was recently retired, Bayern’s game plan is one with no plan B: He goes to 100 mph to the front and dares his challengers to run him down. It earned the 3-year-old son of Offlee Wild a 7 1/4 length triumph in the Grade I Haskell Invitational in July and it was enough to put California Chrome and six others in their place when he won the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby in September, his final Breeders’ Cup prep.

Game On Dude famously always faltered in the Classic, failing to win the race in three tries. Without fellow speedster Moreno bringing any additional heat as expected, Bayern was rocking along on the front end with Toast of New York stalking about a length and a half behind through fractions of 23.12 and 46.44.

“The thing about Bayern, once he gets his speed, his brilliance is his weapon,” said Baffert, who earned his 11th career Breeders’ Cup victory and had lost with his previous 12 starters in the Classic. “We talked about it before and you  need to let him do his thing. If you try to slow him down, he’s just not effective.

“So I loved what was going down.”

With three eights of a mile to go, Toast of New York loomed at Bayern’s flank with Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero California Chrome, who had been third throughout, swung out three wide and engaged the leading duo.

At the wire, a nose and a neck separated the top three with Bayern covering the 10 furlong distance in 1:59.88. The celebration that eventually got to transpire was muted by the controversy that rose up around it.

“We lost our race at the break when the seven (Bayern) shot out of there and ran into everyone,” said Eric Guillot, trainer of Moreno who ended up last in the 14-horse field.

“My horse ran his eyeballs out,” said Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome. “He was right there, right down to the money.”

Even more cloudy right now is picture for Horse of the Year and 3-year-old champion. Bayern seemingly would have both locked up by earning what is now his sixth win in 10 career starts.

Like his end result, it’s not that simple anymore.

“To me, certainly he’s gone cross country like beating the best, and certainly on the world stage, he’s overcome everything and won today,” Bayern’s owner Kaleem Shah said. “In my mind certainly he deserves Horse of the Year and 3‑year‑old champion.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

2015 campaign the target for Distaff runner-up Don’t Tell Sophia

Don’t Tell Sophia represented proud for the Keeneland-based contingent on Friday, unleashing a huge run from last to run second to likely champion Untapable in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff. With the 2015 Breeders’ Cup slated to take base in her backyard, trainer and co-owner Phil Sims is already thinking about what the 6-year-old daughter of Congaree may be able to pull of a year from now.

A tired by happy Sims said Saturday morning that Don’t Tell Sophia came out of her Distaff effort in good order and was already back in Kentucky. Though she is in top form right now, winning the Grade I Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland October 5 prior to her Breeders’ Cup outing, Sims ruled out the possibility of one more start this year as he has an eye on a seven-year-old campaign for the mare he purchased for $1,000 as a yearling.

“She came out fine,” Sims said. “She ran really game you know. It’s just such a short turn from the stretch to the wire but she was game with every stride. We’re happy with her.

“Probably not,” Sims added when asked if he would consider wheeling back against males in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs later this month. “We’re looking at next year and I want to give her a little bit of a breather right now at this point. We’ll give her a breather now and evaluate her later but if she’s telling me she wants to run next year – she’s getting better all the time – so she may have a campaign next year as well.”

Don’t Tell Sophia scored her first career Grade I win in the Spinster and has now racked up $1,339,295 in earnings with 11 wins from 23 starts. She has not been worse than third in a race since October 2012 when she finished fourth in an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland.

“We’re probably going to keep her in the same pattern she’s been in,” Sims said of a possible 2015 campaign. “If we do race next year, which I’m pretty sure we’re going to, we’re going to put the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland as a target. In a perfect world, that would be our goal with her.”



Napravnik announces retirement after Distaff triumph aboard Untapable

ARCADIA, Ca. – One girl brought the drama with the sheer force of her will, sticking her bay face with that paint strip of a blaze in front at the head of lane and showing her challengers in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff what a season’s worth of progressive brilliance looks like.

The other girl, the one who helped foster the above’s ability, then stole the show for most stunning performance on the day when she turned to her mother on national television and told the Thoroughbred racing community that outing might have been the last they would see of her own standard-setting skills.

There never has been a post-race scene quite like one that exploded before the crowd of 37,205 after Untapable’s 1 1/4-length triumph over Don’t Tell Sophia in the Distaff. Moments after guiding the 3-year-old filly to her most significant triumph yet, jockey Rosie Napravnik ignited shock waves that could rock the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains when she announced she would be retiring from race riding effective Sunday as she and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, are expecting their first child.

Napravnik said she was about seven weeks pregnant  and that while her initial plan was to wait until after this weekend to break the news “this filly has just been so special to me…I couldn’t resist because they asked me how much it meant to me.”

At the age of 26, the native of New Jersey has already carved out a niche in racing history. She surpassed Hall of Famer Julie Krone’s total wins and earnings record in a single season for a woman in 2012, is the only female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races and is a two-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks, including this year aboard Untapable.

“I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out I was pregnant,” said Napravnik, who just won her second consecutive Keeneland Fall Meet title. “My husband Joe…his career is brand new and thriving so it’s kind of good timing. He’s going to step out of the limelight and I’m going to step out.”

Sharp, a former assistant to Mike Maker, went out on his own this summer and has already saddled nine winners from 19 starters.

Napravnik first decided she wanted to be a jockey at age 7 after riding in her first pony race. At 16, she took out a license with the National Steeplechase Association and in 2005, obtained her jockey’s license, winning 71 races.

In 2012, the year she won her first Kentucky Oaks aboard Believe You Can, Napravnik also joined Krone as the only female riders to win a Breeders’ Cup race when she piloted Shanghai Bobby to victory in the Juvenile.

Jockeys are notorious for their repeated comebacks: Exhibit ‘A’ being Hall of Famer Gary Stevens returning from a 7-year retirement last year and riding this weekend after having knee replacement surgery this season.

Napravnik is known to spend her down time away from race riding taking her own pleasure horses over fences. She didn’t totally close the door on one day returning to the jocks room but called the hiatus “indefinite”.

“I’m not thinking of a comeback in ten months, but I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever,” she said.

If indeed Napravnik’s four Breeders’ Cup mounts Saturday are her final career send off, they will have to do something remarkable to top the lasting feeling Untapable instilled in the final furlong.

The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred had been near perfect coming into the Distaff, winning all five starts against her fellow sophomore female runners this year with  her only loss in six prior 2014 outings being a fifth-place run against males in the Grade I Haskell Invitational.

Still, the daughter of leading sire Tapit had run the worst race of her 11-race career at Santa Anita Park last year when she was eighth in the Juvenile Fillies, and the 1 1/8-miles Distaff presented her a new challenge as she was facing older fillies and mares for the first time. Though the Steve Asmussen-trainee was carried three-wide around the first turn, the race favorite traveled a clear path through fractions of 22.93 and 46.73 and had Iotapa and pacesetter Tiz Midnight hers for the taking when she advanced wide around the final turn.

“I don’t think anything she did this year was easy,” Asmussen said. “It’s just on her ability. She was obviously spot-on today after a very long year. The confidence in her ability is immeasurable.”


Napravnik said she had “so much horse” off the second turn, and got the response she needed to hold off Grade I winner Don’t Tell Sophia, who rallied from last in the 11-horse field edging Iotapa by a nose for second.

Final time for the distance was 1:48.68 over a fast track.

In notching her fourth Grade I win of 2014, Untapable not only has a stranglehold on the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly but can merit discussion for Horse of the Year honors if the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner ends up a longshot.

“Basically, the results are what you dream about,” owner Ron Winchell said. “My plans right now are…hopefully she’ll be competitive next year in the same race.”

With Napravnik boasting 1,878 career wins heading into Saturday and more than $71 million in career earnings, all her fans and horsemen can hope is that she decides to get competitive again herself.

“Nothing makes me happier than to be able to retire and, if everything goes well tomorrow, healthy and on a great note,” Napravnik grinned.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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