By Noah Joseph
On Sunday, September 24, 1989, race nine was the Canterbury Juvenile Stakes. Despite being a fairly new race, in just three previous editions it produced several top 2-year-olds including 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Success Express.
The winner of the ’89 Canterbury Juvenile, Appealing Breeze, also ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that year, but it was the colt that finished second in the Canterbury race that was on to bigger and better things.
That colt was Unbridled. The son of Fappiano was owned by Frances Genter, a 92- year-old woman from Minnesota who had owned racehorses, including 1986 Breeder’s’ Cup Sprint winner and Canterbury winner Smile, for several decades. The trainer of Unbridled was Carl Nafzger, who had stables around the country, including at what was then Canterbury Downs. Unbridled finished 1989 with two wins in six starts and never finished worse than third.
However, it was during his 3-year-old season when the magic happened. Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby after running well in several preps. His win was very special for Genter and Nafzger, for Nafzger called the race for the elderly owner.
Unfortunately, Unbridled didn’t win the Triple Crown, he finished second in the Preakness and fourth in the Belmont, but he capped off his championship season with a win in that same year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park and was voted champion 3-year old colt of 1990.
After a sub-par 1991 campaign, Unbridled was retired to stud, where his record was outstanding. Unbridled died in 2001, but not before he left his mark in the racing world. His son Unbridled’s Song is the sire of Arrogate, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner along with the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, while another son, Empire Maker, produced Bodemeister, the sire of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, and Pioneerof the Nile, who gave us 2015 Triple Crown, Grand Slam, and Horse Of The Year American Pharoah. It’s hard to believe that a colt that finished second in a stakes race at Canterbury would grow up to be one of the best and produce some of today’s greatest horses.
Noah Joseph is a longtime Canterbury Park and horse racing fan. He’s been attending races at Canterbury since 2000 when he was 3 years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. Noah provides a weekly piece on CanterburyLive.com.