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Forever Unbridled takes Distaff, with Stellar Wind last

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Horse Racing

"I'm proud of Johnny (Velazquez) and how he rode her," Stewart said. "Joel (Rosario) is a great rider and those are two great jockeys, but I'm focused on the horse."

Rosario had ridden her seven times, including the last six races, winning four. Velazquez had ridden her twice, both wins.

Velazquez did have the strategy down, even if it went slightly amiss.

"The whole key was I wanted to save ground on the first turn and I was able to do that," Velazquez said. "I got her in a comfortable position where I thought she was going well. At the three-eighths pole I followed Jose Ortiz's horse (Elate) and all of a sudden she stopped and I had to go a little sooner than I wanted. I got to the lead a little too soon for me, but, I mean, it was perfect."

Abel Tasman was the best finisher Friday for trainer Bob Baffert, who has four horses in Saturday's main event -- the Classic. Mor Spirit, the favorite in the Mile, finished eighth and Cupid finished 10th. The Mile was won by Battle of Midway, a Santa Anita-based horse for Jerry Hollendorfer.

"She just got beat by a really good filly," Baffert said of Abel Tasman. "Dallas Stewart had her ready and in the paddock (she) looked like the horse to beat. ... That was a tough race. The Distaff was one of the toughest races on the card. (Abel Tasman) really ran her heart out and just came up second. Sometimes second is good."

Abel Tasman jockey Mike Smith echoed the respect for Forever Unbridled.

"The winner has a quicker turn of foot and got away from me," Smith said. "I was coming at them late, but it was just too late. (Abel Tasman) ran amazing. Can't take anything away from the winner."

As for Stellar Wind, jockey Victor Espinoza had no excuses for the mare who closes her career with 10 wins in 16 lifetime starts.

"We were in a good spot, but, today just wasn't her day," Espinoza said.

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