Monday, February 13, 2012

Stallion Feature: Unbridled's Heart

Unbridled’s Heart: New for 2012 at Keen Farms in Texas

John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rasheed al Maktoum’s bloodstock manager, is possibly the most famous bloodstock agent in the industry. You can find his name next to many of the highest-priced racing prospects sold at the most prestigious sales in the world, such as the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. After all, he is employed by one of the most well-known owners in all of horse racing.

At the 2006 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, you could find Ferguson’s name next to ten of the twenty-three highest-priced colts in the sale. Six colts sold for exactly one million dollars and of those colts, Ferguson was listed as the buyer for four of them. Among those colts was a son of Unbridled’s Song consigned by Taylor Made.

It was obvious why the colt had sold for seven figures. His sire had landed sixteenth on the leading sires list in 2005, which had been his fifth appearance in the top one hundred sires since 2001. The winner of the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and the 1996 Florida Derby (GI) had sired the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) winner in Unbridled Elaine, the 2001 Wood Memorial Stakes (GI) victor in Buddha, and the 2001 Fountain of Youth Stakes (GI) champion in Songandaprayer. Furthermore, the gray colt’s dam, Wild Heart Dancing, was a four-time graded stakes winner who was a half-sister to the grade one-winning Man from Wicklow.

Unbridled's Heart
Photo: Terri Cage
The colt, who was eventually named Unbridled’s Heart, made his debut on May 10, 2008 at Belmont Park. Sent off at odds of nearly 14-1, the colt led from start to finish under Darley’s silks to take the mile and one-sixteenth maiden special weight by ten lengths in a final time of 1:42.12 over a track labeled ‘good.’ With that victory, the gray colt earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Next out, he finished third after an awkward start in the Postponed Stakes at Belmont. Crossing the wire ahead of him was Mint Lane, eventual winner of the Dwyer Stakes (GII), and finishing behind him was the graded stakes-placed Trust N Dustan and the future multiple graded stakes-placed Spurrier.

Unbridled’s Heart made six more starts at four of the nation’s most prestigious tracks on the east coast – Belmont, Saratoga, Gulfstream, and Aqueduct – before making his first start for trainer Dallas Keen and owners Brent Gasaway and Ian Yarnot at the premier racing venue in the south, Fair Grounds Race Course.

He raced at the New Orleans track four times and at Keeneland once before running in the Dallas Turf Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park, in which he ran third behind the graded stakes-winning and multiple grade one-placed horses Dean’s Kitten and Expansion. Finding the finish line after Unbridled’s Heart was the stakes-placed Alwayswithapproval, the graded stakes-winning Schramsberg, the eventual stakes-winning McKenna’s Justice, and the stakes-winning J J’s Indy.

Unbridled’s Heart’s final career victory came in a mile and one-sixteenth turf allowance optional claiming at Lone Star Park, in which he finished ahead of six others in 1:40.98 – just . 93 seconds off the course record. Together, the six horses that finished behind him earned $628,000. One of the horses that Unbridled’s Heart defeated in that race was Backstabber, a half-brother to the 2011 Florida Derby (GI) winner Dialed In.

Unbridled’s Heart was a very versatile racehorse, winning on a good dirt track at Belmont and a firm turf course at Lone Star Park. He won at a range from seven and one-half furlongs to a mile and one-sixteenth and was stakes-placed on both dirt and turf. He exited his racing career with $151,893 in earnings from three wins, five seconds, and four thirds in twenty starts.

In just his first six generations, Unbridled’s Heart traces back to five Kentucky Derby (GI) winners: Unbridled, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew, Swaps, and Native Dancer. He hails from female family number five, the same family from which some of the greatest sires to ever live descended from: Hoist the Flag, Native Dancer, Nureyev, Pleasant Colony (who also won the Kentucky Derby), and Sadler’s Wells. Other descendants from female family five include the 1938 Horse of the Year Seabiscuit, the 2004 Epsom Derby (GI) victor North Light, and the 2008 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Big Brown.

Not only does Unbridled’s Heart possess a magnificent pedigree and a racing career marked by versatility, but he also has very correct conformation. It is difficult to take your eyes off his handsome face and dark, thick forelock, but once you do, you will see that he has a beautifully built seventeen-hand frame. He has a slender neck that ties in well to his sloping shoulder. The angle of his shoulder allows him to be very evenly balanced, having a short topline in comparison to a long underline. As a result of this proportionality, the gray stallion can easily be divided into thirds. He is also very structurally correct, possessing short, sturdy cannon bones and angular pasterns. His hip is long and rounded, allowing him to drive more from the hindquarters and propel himself forward. Unbridled’s Heart is also very adequately muscled, displaying delineation in his forearms and gaskins. His conformation only adds to his validity.

Unbridled’s Heart has all the makings of a sire: value, pedigree, racing talent, and correct conformation. He will stand at Keen Farms in Burleson, Texas for an introductory stud fee of $1,500. The Keens are offering an incentive of a $10,000 bonus to the breeder of the first foal to win an allowance race. With all the qualities that Unbridled’s Heart brings to the table, I would not be astounded in the least if he became one of the leading sires in Texas.

Unbridled's Heart
Photo: Donna Keen
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