Untapable represents everything the commercial Thoroughbred marketplace desires in a broodmare prospect. She is by the country's leading sire, Tapit. She is a Kentucky Oaks winner, a Breeders' Cup heroine and a reigning Eclipse Award champion.
But her owners, Winchell Thoroughbreds, are in the business of cultivating racehorses. While that may be overstating the obvious, it is also the reason why the most superior distaffer in training last year will be in the gate at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
"I always wondered about conversations around the big mares ... and how people are always in a big hurry to hustle off to the breeding shed." stated David Fiske, longtime manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds. "It's hard to think that (Untapable) is going to produce a racehorse better than herself. And we do this to produce racehorses."
The Oaklawn Park crowd is set to be spoiled Saturday with multiple champions making their season debuts. Prior to American Pharoah, the 2014 champion 2-year-old male, kicking off his sophomore season in the Grade II Rebel Stakes, Untapable will launch her 4-year-old campaign in a field of six in the Grade II, $300,000 Azeri Stakes going 11⁄16 miles.
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California Chrome earned Horse of the Year honors for 2014, but no horse other than turf champion Main Sequence so thoroughly dominated their division the way Untapable did a year ago.
Her four Grade I wins last season were highlighted by victories in the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff, outings that made Untapable a unanimous selection for the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly.
The only defeat the bay filly suffered in seven starts in 2014 came when she finished fifth against males in the Grade I Haskell Invitational. While the Steve Asmussen trainee could have gone to any notable stallion her connections wanted, the serious post-Breeders' Cup talk centered around how much better she could be now that she is all grown up.
"You always have contingency plans in the back of your mind. But plan A was never to retire her," Fiske said. "She's just now getting mature. She was just a teenager last year. There is still some room for upside."
Fellow Azeri entrants Sugar Shock and Mufajaah both own graded stakes wins at Oaklawn, a surface Untapable will be racing over for the first time. That's about the only edge Untapable won't be able to claim when she breaks from post No. 1 under jockey John Velazquez after the longest layoff of her career.
The last time Untapable lost while facing her own gender was when she finished third in the 2013 Grade I Hollywood Starlet.
"There is always some concern about them coming back off the layoff that you don't have them tight enough," Fiske said. "But it's a long year and we're just trying to get her started. And if everything goes well, I would guess she would run back in the Apple Blossom and the path gets foggy after that. There would be a lot of races she could run in."
Untapable's multiple graded stakes-winning stablemate Tapiture will also be making his season debut on Saturday's Oaklawn card, breaking from post No. 1 in a field of seven for the Grade III Razorback Handicap. Tapiture, who is also a Winchell homebred, is making his first start since running second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last Oct. 31.
What was already a banner season for the Winchell operation in 2014 keeps on producing accolades. Fiske said he was recently informed that Fun House, dam of Untapable, has been named Broodmare of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, and that Untapable was named Kentucky-bred Horse of the Year.
"I think we'll continue to run her and reassess her condition as we get further along in the year. ... but she's getting bigger and stronger," Fiske said of Untapable. "I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that she could run as a 5-year-old even. Why not?"