ARCADIA California (Reuters) - Untapable justified her billing as the overwhelming favorite with a superb finish down the stretch to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park on Friday.
Expertly ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who said after the race she was pregnant and would be retiring, the three-year-old filly surged past Iotapa from the outside on the final turn to win by one and one-quarter lengths and improve to eight wins in 11 starts.
Napravnik, the first female jockey to compete in all three jewels of the Triple Crown, became the first woman to win the Distaff, which was previously known as the Ladies’ Classic.
”She was unbelievable today,“ Napravnik, 26, said about Untapable. ”She broke well. We settled into a good spot, and down the backside I could not have had more confidence.
“She was just very powerful underneath me, and she started to take me when she was ready to move. We were wide around the second turn, but I was just sitting on go, and she was waiting on my call. She just ran excellent today.”
Iotapa, with Joseph Talamo on board, had to settle for third after finishing a nose behind Don’t Tell Sophia in the day’s feature race.
Kentucky-bred four-year-old Close Hatches, a 3-1 choice and runner-up in the Distaff last year, had been expected to give Untapable her biggest challenge but she faded from fourth place at the halfway stage to finish last in a field of 11.
Napravnik, the only woman to have won the Kentucky Oaks, which she has done twice, stunned the Santa Anita crowd shortly after the race when she announced she was quitting the sport as she and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, were starting a family.
”I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out that I was pregnant,“ Napravnik later told reporters. ”My plan was to wait until after the weekend and I don’t know if I had won on another horse if I would have said anything.
”This filly has just been very special to me, and it’s a very special way to go out. My husband Joe and I are going to be starting a family. His career is brand new and thriving, so it’s kind of good timing.
“He’s going to step into the limelight and I‘m going to step out. I couldn’t think of a better way to go out.”
Asked whether this would be a permanent retirement, Napravnik smiled: “It’s indefinite. I‘m not thinking about a comeback in 10 months, but I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever.”
Four-year-old filly Beholder, who won the 2013 Distaff by four and one-quarter lengths, was unable to defend her title on Friday after being pulled out of the race just over a week ago due to a fever.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Steve Keating/Greg Stutchbury