Untapable winning the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
Some three weeks removed from the Belmont Stakes, a major star of the 3-year-old division will return to action on Saturday – but it’s not someone who appeared in any of the Triple Crown races.
Untapable will return to the races for the first time since her authoritative victory in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks, headlining the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.
"We're just trying to stay in a nice rhythm with her, keep her happy and comfortable," said trainer Steve Asmussen after Untapable worked four furlongs in 49 3/5 at Churchill Downs on Monday. "I thought she went over the racetrack well. It was a pretty warm morning, a little humid, but all is good.
"She's special. You realize how fortunate we are to be around her. She's just a tremendous talent and it's exciting and fun to have her."
Her opponents on Saturday will be a collection of seemingly overmatched fillies, but much more figures to be on the line than taking another step toward an Eclipse Award as the year’s champion 3-year-old filly.
Perhaps the Mother Goose will be the race that convinces owner Ron Winchell and Asmussen to finally tackle the boys and inject a huge jolt of excitement into this summer.
In a year when the males registered only mediocre speed figures in the Triple Crown, Untapable has been dazzling against females, winning all three of her 2014 starts in times that translate into faster efforts than her male counterparts like California Chrome and Tonalist registered in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The Triple Crown with short rest for the Preakness and a mile and a half distance for the Belmont Stakes may have been too much of challenge for Untapable. Yet if she can breeze in the Mother Goose, the Haskell at Monmouth Park and its $1-million purse would be a highly enticing target for the daughter of Tapit.
Considering that Tonalist is being pointed toward the Jim Dandy, California Chrome is ensconced on the West Coast, Commissioner is sidelined and Ride On Curlin is getting a rest, the mile and an eighth Haskell seems like a perfect spot for Untapable, just as it was for another 3-year-old filly Asmussen trained, a leading lady by the name of Rachel Alexandra who won the 2009 Haskell.
Of course, Untapable could stay put and continue to clobber her distaff rivals in Saratoga races like the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama. Yet unlike last year, when Princess of Sylmar won the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame and still lost the 3-year-old filly title to Beholder, there is not someone lurking in the background, ready to benefit if Untapable ventures outside her comfort zone and suffers a setback.
A victory over the boys, meanwhile, would put Untapable in the Horse of the Year picture, especially if it happens to come in the Travers instead of the Haskell.
But before going too far down that road, step one in that equation comes Saturday, when the Mother Goose will give us another chance to watch Untapable – and daydream about the exciting possibilities that could be right around the corner.