Blood-Horse feature: Training Offspring of Unbridled’s Song
Friday, April 08, 2011
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Courtesy of Blood-Horse

by Ron Mitchell

In this continuing series, trainers of the top horses sired by the stallion Unbridled’s Song are asked their views of the sire’s offspring. A son of Unbridled bred in Kentucky by Mandysland Farm, Unbridled’s Song was campaigned by Paraneck Stable, which had acquired the colt for $200,000 from the Derry Meeting Farm consignment at the 1994 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August yearling sale. Campaigned throughout most of his career by trainer Jim Ryerson (he made his last two starts for Nick Zito), Unbridled’s Song won five of 12 starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby (both gr. I), and earned more than $1.3 million. Now 18, Unbridled’s Song has been among the top 15 leading sires six times in the last seven years. He stands at Taylor Made Stallions near Nicholasville, Ky., for a 2011 fee of $100,000.

Todd Pletcher (Octave, Mission Impazible, Magnificent Song, Value Plus, Half Ours, Awesome Ashley, Zawzooth, Lucky Copy, Affirmatif, Marylebone, Buzz Song, Dunkirk)

He’s a world-class stallion. The biggest thing he gives you is a good athlete. They are very attractive horses and for the most part are good-minded horses. He gives you a little bit of a mix. Some are (good) grass (horses); some dirt; some of them sprint; some of them route. They do a little bit of everything. They are not difficult to train.
He was an extremely talented 2-year-old, and a lot of his babies are the same way. Most of them are blessed with a lot of natural ability, and sometimes the tendency is to allow them to give you too much too soon. I have probably made that mistake with a few of them. They are so gifted they may get ahead of you a bit. The key is to slow down their progress a little. You have to discipline yourself to bring them along a little more slowly than they would want you to. When you have one that is doing everything quickly and coming along fast, you want to take advantage of that. But you have to be a little bit cautious. Octave was the consummate professional who showed up every time and gave you everything she had. Half Ours was a really good horse—talented, smart. To me he’s typical of what you get from Unbridled’s Song—very talented but also with a good mind to go along with it.

Larry Jones (Eight Belles, Old Fashioned. Honest Man)

They are extremely talented horses. Their dispositions were different, but the physical makeup of most of them was the same. They were extremely good-sized horses, which is probably one reason (owner) Rick (Porter) buys a lot of Unbridled’s Songs. He likes a big horse. All of mine were extremely scopey with nice long legs on them. Nice head and neck. Every one of them was smart, but some of them were strong-willed. You knew they were thinking. The nicest one of the outfit was Honest Man. He trained exactly the way you wanted. Old Fashioned was set in his ways. You kind of learned to go with him. With Eight Belles, she only had one win in her first five starts and then reeled off four in a row. That wasn’t so much her learning to do it my way, as it was me learning to do it her way. It took her awhile to get me trained. When you get horses that large, soundness is an issue, but I have had it with other sires as well. Those horses are just hard to keep sound. You just try to do the very best management of it that you know how. Any time you have big and fast, you are going to find that weakest link.

Bob Baffert (Midshipman, Zensational, Domestic Dispute)

I haven’t had many (Unbridled’s Song runners) but I’ve had good ones. Midshipman was totally different. He didn’t look like an Unbridled’s Song. He was a chestnut. They wanted to be up close in a race. The only one who was real aggressive was Zensational.  He had no “whoa” in him at all. He just had that brilliance. They were good around the barn but very aggressive around the track. They were very sound horses. You have to be careful; you can’t do too much with them too soon; just let them develop. The older they get, the better you’re going to be with them. So take your time with them. You just have to be real careful. If you are going to have Unbridled’s Song horses in your barn, you better have a patient owner. The good ones will reward you in the end.

Carl Nafzger (Last Song, Whirl, Eurosilver [at end of career])

There is an issue with soundness that you have to watch a little bit. In physical structure they are outstanding horses. Mentally, they are a challenge. They are hot-blooded little devils. They won’t relax and come along with you. They have great ability and they overdo themselves, instead of gradually coming along. They have got tons of ability. They do have one thing in common: 80-90% of them are great conformation horses. They have got great rear ends on them. They have got long withers. They are an athletic, well-put-together horse. If you give them time, they will develop… mine tended to be better horses the older they got.

Rusty Arnold (One Caroline)

She was obviously the most talented one (Unbridled’s Song) I’ve ever had, if not the most talented horse I’ve ever had my hands on. She was all business and a lovely horse to be around. She was not scared of anything. She was probably one of the bravest horses we’ve ever had. She was extremely athletic for a big horse and showed tremendous talent from day one. She was just a lovely horse to have in your barn. If she had any issue, it would be that she wanted to do more in the morning than you wanted her to do. It was pretty easy to control. Probably as nice an athlete I have had in my barn in 31 years of training.

Bret Calhoun (Silver City, Rebridled Dreams)

They were extremely athletic-looking horses, like a lot of the Unbridled’s Songs. Silver City was an incredibly fast horse, and had he stayed together, he would have been one of the top sprinters in the country. We had (Kentucky) Derby dreams and tried to make him into a Derby horse. We couldn’t get him to rate like he needed to rate. Rebridled Dreams was just a solid, very hard-hitting filly. Temperament wise, they both were very good. Unbridled’s Song is a stallion that typically stamps his foals with a lot of speed and a lot of talent. There may be soundness concerns, but there’s a reason for that: The slow ones never get hurt. It’s just the fast ones. I think he throws some of the most talented horses in the country.

Kiaran McLaughlin (Muhaawara, Wild Hoots, Gift of Song)

Muhaawara was a big strong filly. She was very sound and ran well most of the time. She was retired at the end of her 3-year-old year because Sheikh Hamden believes fillies make better producers at an early age. They were pretty good mentally and pretty sound. There were no issues with them. They were very nice conformation-wise. They are talented and fast and when you have a horse that is talented and fast you tend to have more issues than with a slow one that doesn’t perform well. It’s a fine line. You have to be careful that they don’t get too many races.

Mark Shuman (Forest Music, Ambition Unbridled, Queen of Song)

The ones I’ve had were all sizes and shapes, but all were gray. They were all a bit ambitious, a bit hot-blooded. They all wanted to be racehorses. I respected them because they were hard-headed to the degree they wanted things done their way. You had to manipulate them to make them think you were doing it their way. There were no more soundness issues than I’ve had with other horses. What few issues they had, they ran with them. Forest Music was a freak, a real talent. She was by far the most talented horse I have ever been around. 

Dale Romans (Thorn Song)

He was very temperamental and he could be difficult in the morning, but he was always a very sound horse with good conformation. He was a little thinner and narrower than most of them I have seen. He was difficult to train. He wanted to do things his way all the time. He had that same mental toughness in a race. I have had a couple of other Unbridled’s Songs, but nothing that could compare with him. He is one of the best horses I have ever had. Period.

Dallas Stewart (Unbridled Elaine, Even the Score)

They were very strong, durable horses. They had good bone, excellent physiques. They were a picture to look at. They were just a touch headstrong, but they had a lot of talent from the start and breezed good early on. There was no question of whether they could run or not. They were both very big horses, so we had to take our time with them. They had a lot of talent. They could run on dirt or turf. I knew that, being by Unbridled’s Song, they would have stamina to go with the speed, so I just had to manage them right to get them to the races.

Tom Albertrani (Stage Luck)

She was very kind to be around and had a good attitude. Her overall attitude was always pleasant. She was just a nice horse to be around. She was a good-looking gray, very leggy. She was pretty athletic. With these Unbridled’s Songs, they all go well but have trouble holding together. She was more a light-boned-type of filly, and I think that helped her. She was the best one out of the group I’ve ever had. She was a sound filly because she was light on her feet, and I think that’s what helped her a lot.

Posted to | UNBRIDLED'S SONG
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