POCAHONTAS STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
Untapable, under a patient ride from Rosie Napravnik, collared favored Stonetastic past in deep stretch and edged away to a half-length victory in the $168,150 Pocahontas Stakes Sept. 7 at Churchill Downs.
The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, trained by Steve Asmussen, earned a slot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park with her second win in as many tries. The Pocahontas is part of the Cup's "Win & You're In" challenge series, guaranteeing the winner an all-fees paid start in the championship event, as well as a travel stipend.
Untapable, a half sister to Grade 1 winner and $1.7 million earner Paddy O'Prado, is a bay daughter of Tapit out of the Grade 2 winner Fun House, by Prized. She was a debut winner in front-running fashion going 5 ½ furlongs at Churchill Downs June 20 and came into the Pocahontas after training this summer at Saratoga Race Course.
"I think she's a very special filly. That was a huge move considering she had one sprint race," Asmussen said. "We had planned on running her once at Saratoga, but it didn't work out. She's not short on ability, but definitely a little short on experience."
Owner Ron Winchell said Untapable experienced a minor bout of colic while at Saratoga and they wanted to be cautious with the talented filly. She was scratched from the Aug. 11 Adirondack Stakes.
Winning at odds of 11-2, Untapable stalked the leaders in fourth along the inside while a bit rank before angling to the outside for the drive and gradually wearing down 8-5 Stonetastic in the final sixteenth of a mile. The time was 1:44.38 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track on the "Downs After Dark" program.
"She's a very, very talented filly and it was a lot to ask of her: second time out, she hadn't run in a couple of months, and running two turns against winners," Napravnik said.
The race was previously contested as a one-turn mile but was lengthened this year and also moved forward on the calendar to make it part of the inaugural September meet at Churchill. With the win, Untapable earned 10 points toward the starting field for the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. Second through fourth places earned 4-2-1.
Second choice Elena Strikes took the lead from Milam heading into the clubhouse turn and carved quarter mile fractions of :23.73, :48.40, and 1:12.50 before giving way rounding the far turn. Milam took the advantage briefly but was overtaken by Stonetastic, always prominent on the outside for Joe Bravo. But in the drive for the wire, she was only second best to Untapable, who closed smartly under firm handling by Napravnik.
Napravnik won the Pocahontas for the second straight year following her victory on Sign in 2012. It was also the second win in the race for Asmussen following Punch Appeal in 2004.
Trained by Kelly Breen, Stonetastic, like the winner an impressive debut winner, was two lengths clear of Rosalind, who finished up willingly after racing well off the pace for Victor Lebron.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Untapable paid $13.60, $6.20, and $5 as the third choice in the field of eight juvenile fillies. Stonetastic returned $4 and $3.60, rounding out a $41.80 exacta. Rosalind paid $6.60 to show.
Milam finished fourth, followed by Harlan's Special, Elena Strikes, Redheaded Witch, and Nevada Deputy.