Trainer says in-form American champion mare has calibre to win big race despite stepping into unknown at Meydan Racecourse - in more ways than one
Dallas Stewart fancies Forever Unbridled's chances to make history at Dubai World Cup in swansong race
The connections of Forever Unbridled, the American champion mare, have chosen the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday as her swansong.
It is arguably the biggest challenge of Forever Unbridled's career as she prepares to do three things for the first time: compete with the "boys", tackle a distance of 2,000 metres, and race outside the United States. Her task is made all the more difficult by the fact no filly or mare has won the World Cup since it was first run in 1996.
However, her camp is confident that the six-year-old has all that is required to make history before she is retired from racing.
For starters, there is the record: Forever Unbridled has seven wins, including four Grade 1s, from 16 starts. Only twice has she finished outside the top three. And her career earnings stand at a cool $3.1m at the moment.
Then there is the history: she is the daughter of Unbridled’s Song, the sire of champion Arrogate, who is the reigning World Cup champion and has also clinched the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
In fact, Mike Smith, the 2017 winning jockey on Arrogate, is booked to ride Forever Unbridled. “He’s ridden her earlier and he knows the track in Dubai,” trainer Dallas Stewart said of the American Hall Of Famer.
There is also the calibre: Forever Unbridled has won in big races across the American landscape - in New York, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. She also finished third in her first visit to Southern California last fall for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup.
“We know she’s gifted,” Stewart said. “She knows how to win. We got the invitation, so we decided to take a shot. Mr Fipke [owner Charles E Fipke] is pretty game for trying new things, so here we are.
“She’s a really good racehorse and she has already proved running on different tracks and successful. She has run in different racecourses. She had three starts and three wins last year. So, she’s dedicated to win."
Finally, there is the physical condition: Stewart said Forever Unbridled has ticked all the right boxes since arriving in the emirate last week.
“You want your horse to travel, first and foremost, in good shape, and I think she has,” Stewart said. “She looks good, her energy is good, her appetite is great. So, all of the things that we look for in racehorses, she looks that. She's travelled well."
Forever Unbridled has also pleased her trainer with her appearance and energy level. “She’s never missed a day of training. She’s been training great. Her works have been great.”
She has been working steadily since the start of February for her trip to Dubai, including a bullet work of 59.60 for 1,000m on March 15 at her home base at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
“Whether she can compete against the boys, come over here and win, that’s what we are trying to find out, and it will be a great achievement for her, if she does.
“She’s not a typical-looking filly. She’s big and strong. She’s got a lot of energy like what a good racehorse she is. She’s just pretty strong and competitive nature.
“You have to be prepared to come into a race. The distance first time for her. She likes to come from the outside. The mile and-a-quarter looks good for her.”