In the end, it really didn’t matter who got the job to ride Forever Unbridled. On Friday, the 5-year-old mare proved that she really didn’t give a darn who was on her back. In the end, all that mattered was that she had someone back there to just guide her around the Del Mar Race Course dirt course.

On Friday afternoon, with jockey John Velasquez replacing former rider Joel Rosario, Forever Unbridled stamped herself as the best mare in the country and stomped her opposition to win the Grade 1, $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Abel Tasman, the valiant winner of the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year who had 3 G1 wins and 2 G1 seconds and 1 G3 second in 6 starts this year, closed well enough to get a non-threatening second place finish about a length behind the winner.

Paradise Woods, who was brilliant in pushing the pace-setter Champagne Room — who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies just a year ago — through bold fractions throughout the early stages of Friday’s 11/8-mile Stakes, faded to third in a gutty effort, as well.

The two favorites in the race, Elate and Stellar Wind, truly never made much of a threatening move at any point during the race. Elate, who was much closer to the pace on Friday than she has been in the past few races, did finish 4th, while Stellar Wind was much farther back in last of eight on a track where she was a perfect 3-for-3 going in.

“Why, I just feel like I am really lucky person,” said owner Charles Fipke, when interviewed on the winner’s stand after the race. “I am really lucky to have a great team in (jockey) John Velasquez and (trainer) Dallas Stewart.”

On Monday of this week, at the time of entry, Fipke caused a huge stir when he announced that Velasquez — a Hall of Fame rider — would be replacing regular rider Joel Rosario for this race. Rosario had ridden the mare in the six previous starts, including a thrilling win over the great Songbird in the G1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga in her last out.

It became even more of a story when it was discovered that Stewart had given Rosario and his agent the call for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

A day after the Post Position Draw, the stewards at Del Mar and Fipke announced that since there was considerable confusion over what jockey actually had the mount, that the owner would pay both riders their fee and percentage of the purse after the race.

But all of the hub didn’t cause the mare a bit of consternation. Not on Friday. “Well, John is pretty consistent. And, he won the last Breeders’ Cup race for us. And, he is a wonderful rider. Joel Rosario is a very good rider. He did a very good job in the last race. But, in the end, I thought we would have a better chance with a more consistent person.”

After the race, the owner seemed to put his mouth up to his mare, who whisper a sweet nothing or two that could mean a sweet something.

“Candor is great, speedy,” is what he said.

Perhaps. But it was the mare who did all the work in impressive fashion. With Velasquez in tow.

When asked what race is next for the star mare, Fipke laughed and announced:

“The Pegasus and the Dubai Cup,” he said, with a laugh.

Velasquez, who had ridden Forever Unbridled to victory seven races ago in the G1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, was happy. And, obviously, relieved.

“I know it’s a short stretch, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t too far back,” Velazquez said. “Once I got her running — I got to the lead a little bit too soon — but she got it done anyway.”

Stewart, who has spent much of his training career in Louisville at Churchill Downs both as an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas and then on his own operation, loved how the race unfolded. But, more importantly, finished.

“She got to the lead a little bit earlier probably then she would have some tracks, but here like Johnny said, at the quarter pole you got to be here because the wire is coming up a little bit quicker. I felt great about the way he handled her. Down the backside, it was a beautiful move. He saved ground on the first turn and when he got to the backside he just edged her out, not going to be in any traffic. I knew then that we’ re going to have a good horse race from here,” said Stewart.

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Rushing Fall Wins Juvenile Fillies Turf

Rushing Fall, the brilliant 2YO filly by More Than Ready trained by Chad Brown, looked like she made have a tough time in her run at Del Mar when she drew the 11th post position out of 14 to go.

It didn’t matter, either.

The undefeated filly, who came into the Breeders’ Cup off a fast-closing and impressive victory in the G3 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, kicked home a very impressive winner.

The longshot Best Performance was second, while Aidan O’Brien’s September was third.

Battle of Midway Wins Dirt Mile:

Battle of Midway, who ran a game third in the Kentucky Derby earlier this year before his HOF trainer decided to shorten him up for the Breeders’ Cup, made his boss look like a genius on Friday.

The 3YO son of Smart Strike struck at the wire to beat the talented, tough and tenacious Sharp Azteca to win the BC Dirt Mile.

Awesome Slew closed well to gain a non-threatening third, while Practical Joke, hampered from the start by a terrible outside post, was fourth.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer made the decision to shorten Battle of Midway up after a rough and tumble 6th in the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth back in July.

In addition, he equipped the talented colt with a set of blinkers.

The first result was a win in the Shared Belief Stakes right here at Del Mar at the same 1 mile distance.  After running second in the Oklahoma Derby at 11/8 miles, Hollendorfer cut his stable star back again.

And, they got the same thrilling result.

Mendelssohn Wins Juvenile Turf

Jockey Ryan Moore knows how to ask a horse to run.  And, it was obvious on Friday that he knows when to ask a horse to run.

Coming out of the turn for home, Moore jostled, jilted, and nearly jumped off his talented 2Yo colt Mendelssohn, but the colt responded with a kick for home that catapulted him to an impressive victory over Untamed Domain.

Mendelssohn, who had run second to U S Navy Flag in his last outing, gave trainer Aidan O’Brien another win in the Breeders’ Cup, and gave his jock the ride of a lifetime.