March 4, 2024

Forever Unbridled returns victorious in Fleur de Lis

Forever Unbridled was most impressive returning from a layoff dating back to November (Holly Smith Photography)

Trainer Dallas Stewart is not ready to say whether Forever Unbridled can make up a length-and-a-quarter on champion Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), but he’s not backing down from the fight.

“I wouldn’t bet against my mare, would you,” Stewart asked after Forever Unbridled won the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) — a Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In race for the Distaff. “The Breeders’ Cup is our goal, and we’ll work toward getting here there; this was the first step.”

Forever Unbridled was unhurried early under Joel Rosario before moving into contention entering the far turn before swinging wide to defeat the competition 1 3/4 lengths ahead of longshot pacesetter Apologynotaccepted.

“She felt good out there, and she’ll move forward off this,” Rosario said. “She’s a nice horse who makes my job easy.”

Forever Unbridled won a pair of Grade 1 races last year when never worse than third in 6 starts, including that 1 1/4 defeat behind champions Beholder and Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. This year’s older female division against looks deep with Songbird and Stellar Wind returning.

“You saw it tonight,” Stewart said. “She’s a real racehorse. She’ll be ready for whoever shows up in the Distaff.”

Stewart will point Forever Unbridled for races at Saratoga, including the Personal Ensign (G1). She is a five-year-old mare by Unbridled’s Song out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemons Forever, who won the 2006 Kentucky Oaks (G1) for Stewart and breeder Charles Fipke.