June 8, 2023

Breeders’ Cup Distaff Quotes & Transcript

Forever Unbridled wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) at Del Mar on Friday, November 3, 2017, with jockey John Velazquez aboard (c) Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos

Friday, November 3, 2017

Winning trainer Dallas Stewart (Forever Unbridled)

“I’m just blessed. She’s such a great filly. A championship was on the line and she’s three-for-three. She ran great and I’m proud of Johnny (Velazquez) and how he rode her. Joel (Rosario) is a great rider and those are two great jockeys, but I’m focused on the horse. She’s had that spacing and she’s been very successful with that.

“Last year she had an injury and we gave her plenty of time. Chuck (Fipke) was right about putting her back in training. He didn’t have to. He could have just retired her already a Grade 1 winner. He opted to bring her back and the injury wasn’t bad and she was never sore. We brought her back and put her back in training and she’s so good when you space those races out. She’s the best I’ve trained.”

Winning jockey John Velazquez (Forever Unbridled)

“The whole key was I wanted to save ground on the first turn and I was able to do that. 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.”

Second-place trainer Bob Baffert (Abel Tasman)

“Down the backside I was a little bit worried, but down the stretch she tried hard and she ran her race. She just got beat by a really good filly today. Dallas Stewart had her ready today and in the paddock, the winner looked like the horse to beat. We’re so proud of our mare. She gave us the biggest thrill winning the Kentucky Oaks and she showed up again today but just came up a little bit short.

“She is so sweet. She is the kindest horse in the barn, and for her to run like that. It was a great performance by her going against older horses, and it was a great performance by the winner. She ran her race. She just got beat by a really good horse. That was a tough race. The Distaff was one of the toughest races on the (Breeders’ Cup) card. She really ran her heart out and just came up a touch short. She ran her heart out but just came up second. Sometimes second is good.

“She’s such a competitor and I really wanted to see her win because she’s a favorite in the barn. She’s a sweetheart like American Pharoah and maybe one day they’ll breed her to American Pharoah.”

Second-place jockey Mike Smith (Abel Tasman)

“She ran dynamite. The winner has a quicker turn of foot and got away from me. I was coming at them late, but it was just too late. She ran amazing. Can’t take anything away from the winner.

Third-place trainer Richard Mandella (Paradise Woods)

“She ran a very good race. It’s already getting excited thinking about having her back next year and watch her grow into racing. I have no complaints about the way the race was run. I’m very pleased with her very fine effort.”

Third-place jockey Flavien Prat (Paradise Woods)

“I had a good trip. She relaxed nicely. I wasn’t worried about that. She did everything right. Turning for home I thought I had a good shot. She ran a good third and she’s only a 3-year-old.”

Fourth-place trainer Bill Mott (Elate)

“She was training great but she was a little dull today; a little flat. Maybe it’s just late in the year and she ran like she is just getting a little tired.”

Fourth-place jockey Jose Ortiz (Elate)

“It was a good race for her. She broke well and we got a good position. She went well all the way around there. But when it came time in the stretch, it just wasn’t there. She ran out of gas.  But she’s only a 3-year-old and she’ll come back next year and be even better.”

Fifth-place jockey Frankie Dettori (Mopotism)

“I had a good trip. She tried her best.”

Sixth-place jockey Mario Gutierrez (Champagne Room)

“She was a little bit rank today.  I was surprised by that.  And it might have hurt her a bit.  But she ran hard and hung in there.  She’s going to be OK.”

Seventh-place jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. (Romantic Vision)

“She broke good and was in a nice spot. They were just a little faster than her today.”

Eighth-place jockey Victor Espinoza (Stellar Wind)

“We were in a good spot.  But, today just wasn’t her day.

Friday, November 3, 2017

John Velazquez
Charles Fipke
Dallas Stewart

THE MODERATOR: Charlie is coming, but the winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff is Forever Unbridled. Congratulations to these gentlemen. We’re happy to be joined by winning trainer Dallas Stewart. This is his second win in the Distaff, his second Breeders’ Cup win. And John Velazquez, his 15th Breeders’ Cup victory, and his first in the Distaff. So congratulations to you both.

Johnny, we just heard a little bit about the trip, but if you could give us the full version.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Yeah, like I was talking to Dallas, we broke really well going into the first turn. I wanted to make sure I did save some ground going into the first turn. Then get her in a comfortable position that I wanted. And then it started slowing down a little bit and going to the backstretch. I pulled it out and (indiscernible) Jose Ortiz, which I thought she had a really good chance too.

But the half-mile pole, I could see he’s in trouble. So I had to make a decision to go around him and try to close the hole a little bit, and she did it pretty easily, though.

Then I saw Flavien’s horse on the lead, and I thought she would have a little more fight with me. I thought he would have a little more to fight with me, and when I got to him, he didn’t have any horse, and I ended up in the lead a little too soon. She waited a little bit, but the other horse came in, and she saw it, and she gave me another gear.

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Charlie Fipke, the winning owner. This is his second Breeders’ Cup win to go with Perfect Shirl, who won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2011. Mr. Fipke, thank you for joining us.

Dallas, if you could add to what Johnny said, your impressions of the race, and did it unfold the way you were expecting?

DALLAS STEWART: Yeah, she got to the lead a little earlier than she would on some tracks. But like Johnny said, you’ve got to be at the quarter pole, you’ve got to be there, because the wire’s coming up a little quicker. So I felt great about the way he handled her. Down the backside was a beautiful move. He saved ground on the first turn, and when he got to the back side, he just edged her out. Not going to be in any traffic. I was like, well, we’re going to have a good horse race from here. Should.

Q. It’s a good thing it was a great ride, because you did get a lot of questions about your jockey this week. If you could address that now in retrospect, putting Johnny on?

DALLAS STEWART: Well, like I said, the horse was ready. He’s a great jock. Mr. Fipke made the decision. That’s what we went with, and he rode her great. She ran great, and I’m very happy about it.

Q. Mr. Fipke, your thoughts on Johnny’s ride today, and the decision to put him up after coming off a win?

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, I ran into him last night at the wine tasting and the food session, and he already had a perfect plan all mapped out, and I had great confidence when I heard that. I had looked at all of the past races, and he doesn’t —

DALLAS STEWART: He’s won two races on her already. And he won on her full sister, too, Group 1. So he’s got a history with the family.

CHARLES FIPKE: Yeah, he won the last Group 1. And I was so — I remembered the last one, the last Breeders’ Cup Race. It was unbelievable. Our horse had a history of liking the hard ground.

DALLAS STEWART: Perfect Shirl, right?

CHARLES FIPKE: Perfect Shirl. And it had rained. It had rained the night before and the track was sloppy and wet, and I think we were a Group 3 winner, that’s all, and we were running against all these multiple Group 1 horses from Europe. Roger Hatfield and myself, we didn’t think we had a chance.

DALLAS STEWART: Almost scratched her, didn’t we?

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, we thought, we got this far, we’ll give it a shot. And, Johnny Velazquez, he just was wonderful. He edged that horse right up close, and just at the right time he bounced right out in front of them all. He’s — for timing and consistency, Johnny’s the best.

Q. So was it a matter you just didn’t want him sitting in the jock’s room?

CHARLES FIPKE: What’s that?

Q. Well, when you made the change, I’m assuming he was available is why you were able to make the change?

CHARLES FIPKE: Oh, yeah, I phoned him.

Q. So it was it a matter of you didn’t want to leave him sitting in the jock’s room rather than race?

CHARLES FIPKE: Oh, well, a little — 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.

Q. Dallas, when you won this race before with Unbridled Elaine, it was a filly you had early in her career and you got her back maybe a few weeks before the race. This filly, you trained her mother, won the Oaks with her. Just talk about the specialness.


DALLAS STEWART: Yeah, it’s just remarkable. I don’t think there is a family like this in the world that I can think of that’s been so solid. But you’ve got to give Chuck Fipke credit. He bred Unbridle’s Song, the sister, went right back, and he had the nerve to step up and give 2.5 million for the mom, you know? A lot goes credit to him.

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, the night I bought the horse was the night I actually met Dallas.

DALLAS STEWART: I had never met him.

CHARLES FIPKE: The thing is I had looked at all of the mares, and I always like to buy the best confirmed mare, and the best confirmation mare in the whole place was Lemons Forever, who had won the Kentucky Oaks. And he — just before she sold, they showed a picture of her winning the Kentucky Oaks, and she won by a big margin. I thought to myself, this is going to be expensive. And it was. (Laughing.)

So I talked to Dallas about it, you know — I actually think right then I said I’m going to —

DALLAS STEWART: Yeah, he said, I’m going to send you some horses. And I said, great, don’t forget to pay for that $2.5 million. But, no, he called me and we went on from there. And it’s been great ever since.

CHARLES FIPKE: The thing is I said how come you had to show that just before the sale? He says, well, you know, I’ve got the wife and the kids, and I got to get some grits on the table, you know?

DALLAS STEWART: It went great. It’s been a great story. The Lemons are still having babies, Unbridled Forever is still having babies.

Hey, listen, this filly had an injury, not a bad injury, after the last Breeders’ Cup, and we did surgery on her. Chuck could have retired her. She was already a Group 1 winner, but it wasn’t severe, and Chuck’s like, I want to keep going with her, and he did. A lot of people — I mean, nine out of ten guys, I think, would have retired her. But Chuck, being the guy he is, a sportsman and loves racing, and wanted to see this happen for her, and he did it.

Q. Johnny, this is the first — you hadn’t ridden her in a year and a half. Does she seem like the same horse? What is different about her since you rode her in the Apple Blossom last year?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Every time since I’ve rode her, she’s pretty much the same. And I’ve been watching her all year when she’s been running with somebody else, so I kind of know her very well from the first time I rode her.

She actually is much bigger and stronger now, for sure. I got into the paddock, and I said to him, wow, she looks awesome. Thank you. She looked really, really good. And having seen her really close, close to go and ride her. First time I saw her, I was like, wow, she looked beautiful.

DALLAS STEWART: She’s beautiful.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: I mean, to have a horse like that and come back to the Breeders’ Cup looking like that, and actually she performed just like it. But then again, I had watched her for so long, I rode her, and I know her so well that she’s much stronger now.

Q. Did you feel like in the time that Joel was riding her, did you feel like this was — I don’t know how to phrase this other than to simply say this was your horse?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: You know, that’s up to the owners. That’s not —

DALLAS STEWART: He’s contracted. He doesn’t have anything to do with that.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: That’s nothing to do with me. The owner feels like he felt like he was lucky with him in the Breeders’ Cup, he wanted to make a change.

Q. I guess in a vicarious way, do you feel like, I know what I could have done with this horse?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: I don’t want to go into the tales. But anytime I ride a big race or any kind of horse, I’m going to get into the horse, I’m going to ride it the best I can. I’m going to give the horse the best chance to win the race. That’s what I’m going to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s this horse, another horse, I’m going to go to win the race. And that’s what I’m good at.

Q. John, was the plan to sit behind Elate?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: That’s what we talked about. I want to take a good position, and save the ground. I just wanted to save some ground the first time and get it out into the outside little by lit little, and get a good position and go around the horses, and she did just that. So the plan worked out just the way we wanted to. Sometimes you can draw it the way you want it to, and it doesn’t show up. It just happens she was there for me. Let’s put it that way. She did everything I asked her to do, and she responded for everything I wanted to do. It’s easy when you have a job like that and the horse responds for you.

Q. And, Mr. Fipke, you found a lot of gems and diamonds in your career. Where does this family of horses rate in your career of finding gems and diamonds?

CHARLES FIPKE: Wow, that’s tough. Because I still like to find the gems and diamonds. I think I have a potential mine coming up. A new one, a new one.

Q. This is the Botswana one?

CHARLES FIPKE: Oh, no, I was just in Botswana, but, no. This is James Bay Lowlands of Attawapiskat.

Q. There a spelling? Can you spell that?

CHARLES FIPKE: Attawapiskat? A-t-t-a-p-i-s-k-a-t, I believe. Something like that. Attawapiskat.

Q. Just so I’m clear, why did John come off the horse in the first place after he had won the first one?

DALLAS STEWART: Well, I can tell you that. John, I think you got hurt.


DALLAS STEWART: And then Rosario rode her, and Rosario rode her, and Rosario got hurt, and then he got back on the horse. I think that’s the way it went. Then he had another call with Pletcher, who he rides for a lot. I think that’s the way it went. Not positive, but there were a couple injuries involved.

Q. John, your success in the Breeders’ Cup, this is the first Distaff for you; is that correct?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: No, no. I won with — oh — Shadow, yes.

Q. But your success is second only to Mike Smith’s in the Breeders’ Cup?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Like I said, I’ve been blessed with people like that giving me the opportunity. It makes it a lot easier for you to come in and have the confidence to ride good horses. When you have that behind you, all you have to do is try to place them in the right place.

Q. How do you think it defines your career?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: The Breeders’ Cup, you mean?

Q. Yes?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Obviously, this is what makes the big guns, if you will. The big guys, and everything, when you win big races like this, this is what people are looking for. Like winning the Breeders’ Cup for him, he felt like maybe better luck with me, that’s why he made it, and that’s why we’re here together.

Q. So what is the — you said on TV you’re looking at the Pegasus with her?

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, we’ll definitely — 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, but even last year — actually I had lunch with Frank Stronach who graciously had lunch with me, and she was considered even last year. But she got a bone chip.

DALLAS STEWART: She’s healthy and strong now.

CHARLES FIPKE: Now she’s healthy and strong.

DALLAS STEWART: So she’ll be in consideration.

CHARLES FIPKE: Now she’s won the Distaff. I don’t know how she’ll stack up against the colts.

DALLAS STEWART: See who retires. We’ll see who retires.

Q. Bottom line, if she stays healthy, she’s running at six?

CHARLES FIPKE: Yes, yes, yes.

Q. Mr. Fipke, do you have a stake in the Pegasus? Have you bought a stake?

CHARLES FIPKE: No, I haven’t. No, no.

Q. Are you considering it, or would you buy it from somebody else?

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, as Johnny knows, I’m a dealmaker (laughing).

DALLAS STEWART: You made a good deal with me, brother.

Q. You’ve obviously had a lot of thrills in your life of discovery. How does winning a race like this compare? Does it compare at all? Is it greater? Is this why you’re in this business?

CHARLES FIPKE: Yeah, I must admit, I have more than one passion. Horses are my passion, and, of course, finding diamond mines are my passion. When we started finding diamonds in Canada, when everybody else thought they were only in South Africa and Russia, and we worked really hard at it for three years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only took Sunday afternoons off, and I took all my kids horseback riding on Sunday afternoons. And no holidays, no nothing. It requires a lot of persistence to succeed. And this guy, he’s very persistent, and so is he, so it’s a team effort.

DALLAS STEWART: And the endangered animals, too.

Q. What is harder, finding a diamond mine or winning the Breeders’ Cup Race?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Difficult questions.

CHARLES FIPKE: Well, I actually think maybe the Breeders’ Cup might be a little more difficult because you breed these horses, and Forever Unbridled, you don’t realize how many other horses that we pay the oats and the bills and the training bills and everything for just to get the one. And the odds are pretty stacked against you, you know?

DALLAS STEWART: That shows how special the family is.

CHARLES FIPKE: Yeah, that’s right. The family is very special.

DALLAS STEWART: Her sister was third. Mother won the Oaks. It’s a special — I think it’s the most special. It’s unbelievable.

CHARLES FIPKE: And that’s why I liked Forever Unbridled — sorry, I mean Lemons Forever when I researched her, I noticed she was from an Argentine background, family, and the very same as Personal Ensign. So it was a good outcross. You know, I got sold on the pedigree, and then when I saw her, I got sold again. I couldn’t even stop on the bidding. I had to have her. And here we are.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: You know, somebody wrote a song about me and this horse. Have you heard it yet? It’s coming out now.

DALLAS STEWART: Somebody wrote a song.

CHARLES FIPKE: What’s that?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Somebody wrote a song?

THE MODERATOR: Who is this? Somebody just sent it to you?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: She wrote a song about me and the horse. It’s nice, actually. I heard a little demo of it. It’s very nice.

THE MODERATOR: Do you know the titled song?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Unbridled Forever —

DALLAS STEWART: Forever Unbridled? When you’re in the interview room, you’ve got to be careful. I put a retired horse in the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll be like, oh.

THE MODERATOR: Dallas, you made the right moves to get here. Talk about coming in off only two starts this year. Did you struggle with how to put together a campaign and deciding to train up from Saratoga instead of another prep?

DALLAS STEWART: Well, it’s kind of been like this. She came in from Winstar. Chuck’s great about sending his horses to Winstar. First-class facility. As we know. She came in great shape. She was ready to be trained on. When they come to me, I’ve got to go to train them, there’s no playing around. She took right back to it. You never know with the layoff, a filly, her head might not be in the game, but she was ready. We gave her like five works. I was a little confused on where to start her back. I called Chuck and laid out a little bit of a plan. The Fleur de Lis was there, I said, I don’t know if she’s ready. He said, well, if she gets a race, it will make her ready for the Personal Ensign. She ran, she ran great. We spaced it out ten weeks, went to the Personal Ensign. Great race, great ride, healthy. Everything was good. The timeframe was the same to the Breeders’ Cup.

So Chuck was like, keep her healthy. She doesn’t need to run again. I said I agree with you. Give her good work at Churchill. You look at her work tab, she worked in ’12, she worked in ’13, she worked in ’14, I knew she was ready. She needed to run, no stress on her. Brought her over here, and she got the job done.

CHARLES FIPKE: We could have run her in the Beldame, but you risk injury. That was not what the goal was. The goal was the Distaff.

DALLAS STEWART: I have a great team working for me. The kid that gets on her is great about it, Emerson Chavez, and the groom, and my whole staff, I’d like to thank them for being with me. Bentley Combs, Marcelino, everybody that’s worked hard on this filly and keeping her healthy all the way through.

CHARLES FIPKE: When she was born, Elke.

DALLAS STEWART: Elke’s right there.

CHARLES FIPKE: She really looks after the mares, and she’s just wonderful. The whole staff.

DALLAS STEWART: None of it is easy, I can tell you that. None of it is easy.

CHARLES FIPKE: Yeah, you have to have — everything has to be the best. You have to make sure you don’t mess up anywhere. And J.B. McCafferin (phonetic), he was the one —

DALLAS STEWART: Did an excellent job breaking her and her sister. Didn’t have any issues.

CHARLES FIPKE: He was the one that broke American Pharoah too. He’s here with us also.


CHARLES FIPKE: Yeah, Sid Fernando. He’s wonderful.

DALLAS STEWART: He’s the calm in the storm sometimes. Keeps us all straight.

CHARLES FIPKE: He’s the guy that I have to phone all the time for advice, you know. He always gives us great advice, really.

DALLAS STEWART: He does. He really does.

THE MODERATOR: We have a question from the main press box. A writer upstairs wanted to know what this means to you as a Canadian? That’s from a writer upstairs.

CHARLES FIPKE: I don’t know, you know. I just have so many great American friends, I don’t really feel different. I feel like we’re kind of the same. I don’t feel like just because I’m from Canada, I’m different. I just feel I’m —

DALLAS STEWART: Grateful to be here today.

CHARLES FIPKE: North American, yeah. So it’s wonderful. I mean, the U.S. is a great place to race. I think Canada could take a few lessons too. You know, Woodbine could take some lessons from New York, like they should.

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