When Unbridled's Song raced to a 5 3/4-length victory in the
Florida Derby on March 16, covering the nine furlongs in the
sparkling time of 1:47.80, he emphatically installed himself as
the favorite to win Saturday's Kentucky Derby. And four weeks
later, in winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by a length and
a half, he did nothing to discourage his army of admirers.
Unbridled's Song has more going for him than any other recent
Derby favorite. Endowed with considerable natural speed, he is
easily the fastest horse in the field, and that should help him
stay clear of traffic in a race in which 20 horses are expected
to start. As a son of the 1990 Derby winner, Unbridled, he has
the pedigree to go the mile and a quarter. Physically he quite
looks the part of a champion.
Three things stand against him. First, he came out of the wood
with a potentially compromising quarter crack to his left front
heel. Second, an excitable sort, Unbridled's Song has been known
to pitch hissy fits in paddocks and post parades. One can only
imagine what he will do at Churchill Downs when the band strikes
up My Old Kentucky Home and 100,000 partisans start yelling in
his ear. Finally, if he wins, he will do so in defiance of
recent history: No favorite has won the Derby since Spectacular
Bid in 1979, and no winner of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile--the
race Unbridled's Song won last fall--has gone on to win the
roses. If Unbridled's Song pulls a fade, any one of eight horses
could win the Derby, from Skip Away to Cavonnier to long shots
Halo Sunshine and Alyrob.
Oh, well. All that be damned. Unbridled's Song is still the best
horse in the race.
May 5, 1996