Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks drew only a field of five but there is plenty of excitement surrounding the 1 1/16-mile event due to the presence of Untapable and Unbridled Forever, who will meet for the first time.
Both three-year-old fillies have already turned in smashing performances at Fair Grounds, with Untapable posting a 9 1/2-length decision in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra and Unbridled Forever scoring by an easy 1 1/2-length margin in the Silverbulletday, and they appear destined to clash again in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
Untapable earned her first stakes win in the Grade 2 Pocahontas last September but lost all chance when putting her unbeaten mark on the line in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, nearly falling after extreme traffic trouble. She came back to finish third while trying a synthetic track in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, perhaps still feeling the effects of the traumatic experience beforehand, and then earned a 2 1/2-month vacation.
The bay daughter of Tapit returned better than ever in the February 22 Rachel Alexandra, drawing off in eye-catching fashion leaving the far turn, and received a 100 BRIS Speed rating. Untapable will break from the rail with regular rider Rosie Napravnik.
Unbridled Forever dropped her first career outing in late October before recording a superb maiden at Churchill Downs a month later, netting a 100 Speed rating for the 5 1/4-length decision. Trainer Dallas Stewart brought the Unbridled's Song filly back in the January 18 Silverbulletday and Unbridled Forever was in complete control through the stretch drive, edging away from the competition as she cruised to the wire.
Unbridled Forever has been freshened 70 days in advance of this assignment and will leave the far outside post position under a returning Robby Albarado.
Stakes winner and Grade 2-placed Fiftyshadesofgold will switch back to open company following a good-looking win in the restricted Two Altazano at Sam Houston. Mike Smith picks up the mount on the Texas-bred gray filly. Mary Rita will bring a two-race win streak into her stakes debut and the Larry Jones charge will keep Kerwin Clark in the irons. Louisiana-bred stakes winner Artist Cry, who is making her first attempt against open company, rounds out the field.
The Fair Grounds is worth 170 points, on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first four finishers, in the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series.