ARCADIA, Ca. -- Rosie Napravnik delivered more than just a victory in her rousing victory aboard Untapable in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park before 37,205 racing fans late this afternoon. In the winner's circle after the race a beaming Napravnik told her mother in front of a national television audience that she was retiring effective Sunday to start a family with her husband, trainer Joe Sharp.
The Kentucky Oaks winner came up big in the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares 3-year-old and upward, solidifying the 3-year-old filly division with a statement victory over her rival Close Hatches who finished a disappointing last place finish.
Untapable completed the 9 furlongs in 1:48.68 defeating Don't Tell Sophia by 1 1/4-lengths. Untapable returned to her backers $5.40 for the win, $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show. Don't Tell Sophia edged out Iotapa by a nose for second and her backers received $4.60 to place and $3.40 for the show. Iotapa paid $4 to show after dueling with front-runner Tiz Midnight in the early stages of the race.
Trainer Steve Asmussen lauded his star filly in addition to Napravnik's ride to victory. "She’s an amazing filly to put us on this stage and to perform like she did. Rosie and she are a great combination and they have had a tremendous season. Today, definitely makes her a champion and that’s enough said. She’s had a great year and she’s a great filly. We had faith in her. But, we have all been to the races, so you never know the outcome," said Asmussen.
It was the filly's sixth win in seven races this year, Napravnik was aboard five of those victories only missing the Mother Goose when she was sidelined due to injury wherein Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez subbed in for her. Untapable's only loss of the year was when trainer Steve Asmussen gave Untapable a shot against males in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth early this summer when she finished fifth.
The daughter of Tapit out of a Prized mare went off as the 8-5 favorite, made her move at the top of the stretch after being sixth early on and caught wide on both turns. Napravnik was able to move the talented filly into position on the far turn and she started to pick off horses on her way to the lead. Once she made the front she never looked back and held off the hard-charging Don't Tell Sophia,completing a $27 exacta for a $2 wager.
Napravnik's patience paid off and her filly was full of run when she hit the gas. "When I looked at the race on paper it might not set up perfectly from the outside post and a there was a lot of horses inside me that had speed," said Napravnik. "We settled in with a good spot and on the backside I could not have had more confidence. She was very powerful underneath me. We were wide around the second turn and I was just sitting on go and she was waiting on my call, so she just ran excellent then," said Napravnik.
Trainer Phillip Sims was proud of Don't Tell Sophia, a 6-year-old mare, who made a superb late run at an upset of Untapable. “She ran a great race. We’re so proud of her. She had to go a bit wide, but Joe (Rocco) gave her a perfect ride. She was where she was supposed to be and made a run. She kept coming. She lost to a great horse today.”
Joe Talamo, aboard the third-place finisher Iotapa, had the lead when they hit the quarter pole but it wasn't meant to be. “I had a little thrill at the quarter-pole, but the winner just got to us and went away. I was laying perfect. My filly tried so hard, even when she was passed in the lane.”
For Napravnik, who announced through her media representative the news of her pregnancy, has several Breeders' Cup rides on Saturday, including Top Decile (Juvenile Fillies), Emollient (Filly & Mare Turf), Mico Margarita (Sprint) and Tourist (Mile). "My retirement is indefinite. A comeback is something I may consider in a few years, but for now the 100 percent that I have put into racing for the past 10 years will be focused on being a mom and supporting my husband in his new and thriving career as a trainer."
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.