As owner/breeder John Brunetti watched the bay legs of Power of Snunner get ever closer to his filly in the Keeneland stretch April 21, the flips in his stomach got that much more intense.
What comforted Brunetti, and ultimately sparked an emotional jolt of a happier kind, was the fact that Unbridled Mo's past wasn't going to let the presence at her hip win out.
"I was a little bit (nervous)," Brunetti said. "But this filly, she doesn't let anyone pass her."
After making her connections sweat, Unbridled Mo allowed them to celebrate as the 4-year-old bay filly turned back a game showing from Power of Snunner in the lane en route to taking the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) by three-quarters of a length. Watch Video
Friday's triumph before an announced crowd of 16,664 marked the second straight graded stakes score for the daughter of Uncle Mo and her third graded triumph overall in eight career starts. Her mettle once she strikes the front has indeed yet to be conquered with her only two losses coming when she ran sixth after tracking fifth in the Comely Stakes (G3) last November and her maiden outing last April when she never got running and hit the wire eighth.
"When (Unbridled Mo) got to the lead, she started waiting. When the other horse (Power of Snunner) got to her, she put in a nice fight," said jockey John Velazquez, who won the Doubledogdare for the fifth time. "It was her, just waiting, looking at the crowd and everything. Thank God the other horse came to her and made her run again."
Unbridled Mo reeled off a four-race win streak at one point last year—including a victory in the Monmouth Oaks (G3)—but really signaled herself on the distaff scene when she bested multiple grade 1 winner I'm a Chatterbox during her seasonal bow in the Jan. 29 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston. Sent off as the 2-5 favorite in the four-horse lineup for the 1 1/16 mile Doubledogdare, the Todd Pletcher trainee was her normal handy self in her Keeneland debut.
Velazquez rated the filly second in the three path behind early pacesetter Dear Elaine as the former cut fractions of :23.61 and :46.77 over a track rated fast. The compact field became a two-horse race coming off the final turn with Unbridled Mo advancing to take command coming into the head of the lane only to be met by Power of Snunner doing all she could under jockey Mike Smith.
Unbridled Mo let her rival range up, but never let herself be headed as she covered the distance in 1:45.11, setting herself up for a likely run in the June 10 Odgen Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park.
"She's been lightly raced and we found out the secret with her is how much time she should get between races and how we should train her between races," said Brunetti, who purchased Unbridled Mo's dam, Unbridled Waters, for $155,000 at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale. "You know when you experiment, you're taking up a lot of time but we have the right combination with her now, so we just hope we can keep going."
Power of Snunner was 7 1/4-lengths clear of third-place finisher Lady Fog Horn while Dear Elaine rounded out the order of finish. Twirl Girl was a scratch.
Unbridled Mo paid out $2.80 and $2.10 with no show wagering and improved her record to six wins from eight starts with $531,180 in earnings.
"You wait a long time (with homebreds), you go through generations of mares and foals ...and then you get something nice like this," Brunetti said.