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Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Untapable got back on the winning track Saturday with a gutsy one-length victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing.
The 1 1/16-mile contest was the co-feature on the card with the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, which marked the return of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. Untapable herself captured the Kentucky Oaks in May and now has a huge lead in the race for champion three-year-old filly honors.
"To me this wins solidifies the Eclipse," Ron Winchell stated. "She dug in and it was good to get it done after the Haskell Invitational. This was a big exhale after the Haskell and glad to get it done."
"She beat very good fillies," trainer Steven Asmussen agreed. "This is her third Grade 1 of the year. We're very proud to have her. The Winchell family bred a tremendous filly.
"She gives you a tremendous amount of confidence. You rather run her than anybody else," the horseman added. "I think this time of year; the fillies have sorted themselves out. This time of year everybody in belongs. Early in the year and in the spring a lot of horses are not up to the task or go wayward.
"Her works the last three weeks have given us a great amount of confidence that it's the Untapable we should expect."
Jockey Rosie Napravnik piloted Untapable in all but one of her nine career starts leading up to the Cotillion, and settled the Tapit filly into a tracking spot behind the pacesetting Jojo Warrior and Cassatt once the gates opened Saturday. Jojo Warrior set splits of :23 2/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 1/5 while stalked by those two rivals, who ranged up rounding the turn to run in tandem entering the stretch.
Untapable was widest of all circling the turn and was set down by Napravnik in the lane, drifting over near the eighth-pole before being corrected. The bay miss dug in and eked out the length score over a rallying Sweet Reason to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 3/5 over the fast dirt.
"It set up well with the two horses in front (getting) into a little fight on the first turn," Napravnik remarked. "I sat chilly with her and let her move when she was ready. The track is all speedy today so we had to make up some ground. She is all class. She ran great, training great and no reason not for her to go forward."
Easily the public's choice at 1-2, Untapable returned $3 for the win. Sweet Reason broke through the gate but was held by the assistant starter had no problems when the gates officially opened. She had a length to spare on Jojo Warrior once hitting the wire, while Little Alexis got up to finish the top four another 2 1/2 lengths back.
Cassatt, Joine Return, Vero Amore and House Rules rounded out the order of finish. Stopchargingmaria, who has yet to face Untapable, was scratched in favor of taking on her elders in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame at Belmont Park September 27.
Untapable suffered her first loss this year when taking on the boys in the Haskell Invitational prior to the Cotillion. She was bumped at the start of that contest and round up fifth under the wire, but proved dominate over her own gender in four previous starts.
"I was extremely pleased to have her back in the winner's circle where we feel she belongs," Asmussen said. "I think a lot of little things added up to (the Haskell defeat) to not being her day. I was very proud that she came out of a tough race like that, tough circumstances, to win a Grade 1.
"The filly ought to get a lot out of it. She does fly to California tomorrow. She's got nice timing back to the (Breeders' Cup) Distaff, and now we'll try to prepare for that" he added.
The bay filly romped by 9 1/2 lengths in her season opener, the Rachel Alexandra, before taking the Fair Grounds Oaks by 7 3/4 lengths. She easily proved best in the Kentucky Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths and carried that form forward to the Mother Goose for a 9 1/4-length gambol around the track.
As a juvenile, Untapable captured her initial pair of starts, taking her maiden debut by a length before a half-length score in the Pocahontas, both at Churchill Downs. She shipped to Santa Anita for a try at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but was checked and eventually eased into a well-beaten eighth spot under the wire. The Kentucky-bred lass stayed in California and visited Hollywood Park next out to wrap up her two-year-old campaign with a third in the Hollywood Starlet.
Now boasting a 7-0-1 mark from 10 career starts, Untapable has banked $1,896,725 in lifetime earnings.
Untapable is out of the Grade 2-winning Prized mare Fun House, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-scoring millionaire and 2010 Kentucky Derby third-placer Paddy O'Prado. Her third dam is Carols Christmas, from whom a whole slew of black-type runners are descended. Among that group are Grade 1-winning millionaires and sires Olympio and Pyro; 2012 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victor Tapizar; and Grade 1-scoring stallion Cuvee.
Others of note in this female family include Fun House's half-brother Early Flyer, a Grade 2-winning sire, and current Grade 1 vixen On Fire Baby.