Friday, April 12, 2013

Oaks Contender: Unlimited Budget

Oaks Contenders feature the fillies I view as the best contenders leading up to the Kentucky Oaks. Each horse spotlighted in an Oaks Contender will join the 2013 PTG Oaks Contender roster, found on the right side of the blog. Horses will be listed in an order that corresponds to how highly I think of them, with the horse I think most highly of ranking at the top. A horse featured in an Oaks Contender may be taken off the roster if its performances after its article are published are not up to par or if that horse is taken off the Oaks trail, though those articles will remain on my blog.

The most recent undefeated Kentucky Oaks (GI) victress was Rags to Riches, one of the most brilliant fillies in a decade teeming with great females. But approaching this year’s Lilies for the Fillies is another undefeated lady: Unlimited Budget. Coming off a win in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), which has produced seven Oaks winners and five of the last nine, Unlimited Budget stands as one of the top fillies in a deep division.

Debuting at Aqueduct last November, Unlimited Budget pressed the pace before drawing off to a breathtaking 9 ½-length victory. Making her graded stakes debut in her next start, the Demoiselle Stakes (GII), the Repole Stable-owned filly faced just three rivals. Breaking cleanly from the gate in the nine-furlong event, Unlimited Budget quickly earned an easy lead. Though future dominant grade one winner Emollient threatened her lead down the backstretch, Unlimited Budget began to kick clear as she led her adversaries into the final turn. When Emollient re-rallied in the homestretch, Unlimited Budget denied her any further advancement, digging in to win by 1 ¼ lengths.

The Todd Pletcher trainee made her sophomore debut in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII) at the Fair Grounds in late February. Following a minor bobble at the start, Unlimited Budget found herself several lengths off the pace for the first time in her career after she left the seventh gate, but only to employ a new style of running. Settling behind the front-running contingent as the field rounded the clubhouse turn, Unlimited Budget appeared comfortable down the backstretch as the pacesetter raced about nine lengths ahead of her.

Guided to the outside as the fillies began their run into the last bend, Unlimited Budget began to rally remarkably, cutting into Dancinginthecircle’s lead. In an authoritative manner, Unlimited Budget took the lead just prior to the eighth pole, and despite greenly switching leads down the stretch like she’d done in the Demoiselle, the daughter of Street Sense coasted to a 3 ¾-length triumph.

Unlimited Budget made her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks in the Fair Grounds Oaks, facing a tough field. Each of her six rivals had found stakes success; the field included the grade one-winning So Many Ways, the graded stakes-winning Seaneen Girl, the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Promise Me More, the highly-touted, graded stakes-placed Flashy Gray, the graded stakes-placed Blue Violet, and the stakes-winning Ante Up Annie.

Breaking from the outside post, Unlimited Budget raced wide into the first turn as she found a position just off the leaders. Settling just three lengths behind the leaders down the backstretch, Unlimited Budget remained relaxed as a fairly brisk pace was set. Around the far turn, the bay filly quickly gained ground on the leaders, racing wide around the bend to contend for the lead. In the final three-sixteenths of the race, Unlimited Budget battled Flashy Gray prior to kicking clear in the final stages in spite of galloping greenly to score by 1 ¾ lengths.

Unlimited Budget's pedigree

Unlimited Budget has already proven herself at the nine-furlong distance of the Kentucky Oaks when victorious in the Demoiselle and her pedigree certainly suggests that she will have no problem succeeding at it again. Her sire, Street Sense, won the 2007 Kentucky Derby (GI, 10F), the Travers Stakes (GI, 10F), and the Jim Dandy Stakes (GII, 9F), while his sire, Street Cry, captured the Dubai World Cup (GI, 10F) and the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI, 9F).

Unlimited Budget’s stakes-placed dam, Unlimited Pleasure, never raced beyond the distance of six and one-half furlongs and her two other graded stakes winners, Beacon Shine and Jardin, excelled at sprinting distances as well. But the sire of Unlimited Pleasure, Valid Appeal, won a nine-furlong edition of the Dwyer Handicap (GII) and is also the broodmare sire of Puerto Rican champion Soy Conquistador, who set records at nine and ten furlongs; Vacare and Splendid Blended, grade one winners at nine furlongs; and Best of the Rest and Eyes on Eddy, multiple stakes winners at nine furlongs.

The granddam of this talented filly, Cricket Box, was a very successful broodmare, producing the likes of a grade one winner at ten furlongs in Outofthebox and a stakes winner at a mile and one-sixteenth in Ruff and Ready. Unlimited Budget’s third dam – a daughter of Reine de Course mare Old Bess – yielded the multiple grade one-winning Mighty Appealing.

A unique characteristic found in Unlimited Budget’s genealogy is the fact that she is an outcross, lacking any inbreeding within the initial five generations of her ancestry. The most recent outcross that blossomed into a Kentucky Oaks victress was Hall of Famer Silverbulletday; others include Blush with Pride, Bold ‘n Determined, Buryyourbelief, Luv Me Luv Me Not, Pike Place Dancer, and Sardula.

Tough competition awaits Unlimited Budget upon the hallowed grounds below the shadows of the Twin Spires. But this filly has repelled any competition that has threatened her reign and will put up a fight when tested by a legion of talented fillies that comprises of champion Beholder and monster Dreaming of Julia. You will not want to miss this year's Kentucky Oaks.

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