Charles E. Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled made it two Grade 3 wins in a row on Saturday evening at Sam Houston Race Park when taking the newly upgraded $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) by 1 3/4 lengths.
Ridden by Joel Rosario for trainer Dallas Stewart, the four-year-old miss settled into fourth early as last year’s race winner, Cassatt, led the way up front through splits of :24.42, :48.79 and 1:12.49. Forever Unbridled put in her move three wide on the final turn and rallied in the lane under a hand ride to score in a final time of 1:43.74 for 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track.
Sent off the 6-5 favorite to Cassatt’s 9-5 second choice, Forever Unbridled paid $4.40 for taking the Houston Ladies Classic, which was upgraded to Grade 3 status for the first time this year.
Cali Star, a three-length winner of the Rampart S. (G3) in her last effort on December 12 at Gulfstream Park, just took second by a neck over Cassatt, who in turn was 7 1/2 lengths up on Theogony in fourth.
Forever Unbridled was a major contender on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail last year, placing in all three of Fair Grounds’ preps for that Churchill Downs contest – the Silverbulletday S., Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). However, the Kentucky-bred was never a factor in the Kentucky Oaks, suffering her first unplaced finish when 11th.
The Unbridled’s Song filly was given a long vacation following the Oaks, not reappearing until Keeneland’s fall meet where she just missed by 1 3/4 lengths when fifth in the Raven Run S. (G2). Forever Unbridled, a daughter of 2006 Kentucky Oaks heroine Lemons Forever, returned to the winner’s circle last out in the Comely S. (G3) on November 28.
With the Houston Ladies Classic added to her resume, the homebred lass now boasts a 9-3-2-2, $551,600, career record.
Two races earlier, Steve Landers Racing LLC’s Twirling Cinnamon lived up to his 2-5 favoritism with a one-length victory in the $50,000 Space City S. under jockey Florent Geroux.
Trained by Brad Cox, the sophomore son of Twirling Candy came three wide around the turn and rallied in the lane to stop the clock in 1:11.32 for six furlongs over the fast main track.
Twirling Cinnamon was sporting blinkers for the first time and earned his first stakes victory in this spot. The dark bay just missed by a nose while making his juvenile finale in the Sugar Bowl S. at Fair Grounds, and saw his record improved to 7-3-1-0, $93,720, with the Space City win.
Forever Unbridled photo courtesy of Jack Coady/Coady Photography