Forever Unbridled, a six-year-old thoroughbred mare bred by a Canadian diamond hunter, is looking to make history at the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
No filly or mare has won the annual event, one of the richest days in horse racing, since it was first created by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 1996.
Forever Unbridled was bred by Canadian diamond magnate Charles Fipke
Dubai World Cup was created by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 1996
Jockey Mike Smith, who won last year's race with Arrogate, will be riding the six-year-old mare this year
Last year, the Dubai World Cup was won by Arrogate, a half-brother of Forever Unbridled through their sire, the leading North American stallion Unbridled's Song.
Forever Unbridled was as short as 7-1 with some bookmakers Friday to claim the $6 million winner's check Saturday. West Coast is the pre-race favorite, followed by Talisman.
"She's as good as any I've ever been around," Forever Unbridled's trainer, Dallas Stewart, told Bloodhorse.com last month. "I've been around some great ones like Winning Colors and Lady's Secret, too. I won't say that she's better because good is good.
"It's like Tom Brady or Drew Brees. They're both great quarterbacks who have done great things."
Stewart was involved with training 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors as well as former Horse of the Year Lady's Secret.
"She's definitely a quarterback," Stewart said about Forever Unbridled. "She's looking great. Like an Amazon."
The bay mare has a colorful owner.
Canadian mining millionaire Charles Fipke is a geologist who made his fortune when he discovered Canada's biggest diamond mine, Ekati, close to the Arctic Circle, in 1991 against all odds after almost a decade of exploring.
He later named one of his racehorses, Tale of Ekati, after the mine, which turned Canada into the world's third-biggest diamond producer by value after its opening in 1998.
In 2007, the horse finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. In 2011, Fipke's homebred Perfect Shirl won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Fipke studied geology at the University of British Columbia before working on exploration projects in Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Brazil. He has had a few close calls with death, once overcoming cerebral malaria as well as surviving a helicopter crash.
Fipke, who developed a passion for horses when he first learned to ride when he was at high school, has applied the same principles he used prospecting for diamonds in Canada's remote Northwest Territories to breeding the ultimate racehorse.
Forever Unbridled was bred by Fipke himself, who bought her mother, Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, at a broodmare sale in Keeneland, Kentucky in 2007 for $2.5 million.
"When I saw Lemons Forever, she was absolutely gorgeous," Fipke told Bloodhorse.com. "She was from an Argentine family...I was sold on her pedigree, and then I was sold again when I saw her."
Forever Unbridled has had 8 wins from 18 starts, earning her owner $3.2 million. Her biggest win came in November, when she triumphed in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Last year's Dubai World Cup race was won by Arrogate after a dramatic race. Although the four-year-old colt had been the pre-race favorite, a bad start meant he had to come from the back of the field to win the race. Here she is with her owner on the right:
This year, Arrogate's jockey, Mike Smith, will be riding Forever Unbridled and it will be interesting to see if he can strike gold twice.
"Her last few races have really been tremendous," Smith told Bloodhorse.com. "She's running the kind of races where she can definitely compete with the boys. She's a big filly, too, and pretty much as big as the boys she'll be running against, so I'm very excited about the opportunity to ride her."
- The mare bred by a diamond hunter trying to make racing history
- Winx: Cracksman joins wonder mare as world's top-ranked race horse
- Superstar mare Winx retains top spot in world rankings
- Actress makes Emmy history
- NASA's planet-hunter TESS makes first discoveries
- Local racing duo makes history at the Boston Marathon
- Carrie Underwood makes chart history
- Michael Cohen is making history
- Wild stallion stands guard all night over mare killed by car
- Botswana unveils blue diamond to rival the Hope Diamond