Charles Fipke's homebred Forever Unbridled shook off the cobwebs on June 17 at Churchill Downs.
Running for the first time since finishing third behind Beholder and Songbird in the Nov. 4 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, the 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song took down her rivals with a strong late rally under Joel Rosario in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap. With the victory, Forever Unbridled picked up an automatic berth to this year's Longines Distaff via the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" Series.
"She's a true racehorse. That's what they're supposed to do," trainer Dallas Stewart said. "Coming off a seven-month layoff, we just had to run her and see where her fitness level was.
"She just works at it every day. She's the kind of horse that works hard, she keeps herself in the game."
Favored at 1.10-1, Forever Unbridled finished the 1 1/8-mile test in 1:49.94. Apologynotaccepted, a 13.60-1 shot who showed the way before losing her advantage in the final sixteenth, held on to finish a game second. Carrumba completed the trifecta.
"We just needed a spot to get started, and this was it," Stewart said. "We'll probably [aim for a race] at Saratoga, or maybe one at Belmont. We'll talk to Mr. Fipke and see what makes sense. He's the breeder, the owner, he's put a lot into it and he's a really great guy to work for."