When Unbridled took command in the stretch of the Kentucky Derby, his trainer, Carl Nafzger, was caught on camera giving a play-by-play call for the colt’s owner 92-year-old Frances Genter. It was an iconic moment in Kentucky Derby television coverage, and the striking colt’s performance propelled the him to stardom. Unbridled had made six starts as a 2-year-old. He broke his maiden by 10 ½ lengths in his debut, placed in four straight stakes, then won the What a Pleasure Stakes by 5 lengths. His sophomore campaign brought wins in the Kentucky Derby-G1, Florida Derby-G1, and Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 as well as an Eclipse Award as Champion 3-Year-Old Colt. While the Derby might be Unbridled’s most memorable win, the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the most impressive: Behind him were four Champions, three Classic winners, and 12 G1-winning millionaires. In all, Unbridled won or placed 20 times (17 stakes) from 24 starts and earned $4,489,475.
The colt initially entered stud at Gainesway Farm in 1992, and owner Frances Genter passed away the following November. On the strength of Unbridled’s early foals (which included 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 winner Unbridled’s Song in his first crop), Mrs. Genter’s heirs began receiving lucrative offers to purchase the up-and-coming sire. Had Seth Hancock not put together a syndicate in 1996, it is likely that Unbridled would have been lost to American breeders. Instead, he was relocated to Claiborne for the 1997 breeding season. Unbridled went on to sire Champion fillies Halfbridled and Smuggler, Belmont S.-G1 winner Empire Maker, Claiborne’s G1-winning stallion Eddington, and four-time Grade 1 winner Exogenous in his first six crops. Unbridled died in 2001 at 14 following complications from surgeries to remove a tumor-like mass from his colon.
Unbridled is the most recent Kentucky Derby winner to sire a Kentucky Derby winner (Grindstone in 1996). He is also the latest stallion to sire winners of all three U.S. Classics (Grindstone; Red Bullet – 2000 Preakness; and Empire Maker – 2003 Belmont). In only 10 crops, Unbridled sired 49 stakes winners, 10 Grade 1 winners, and four Classic winners and continues to have an impact as a stallion through sons and daughters. Unbridled is the sire of top sires Empire Maker, whose major stakes winners include two-time Champion Royal Delta, Unbridled’s Song, sire of more than 100 stakes winners, and Broken Vow, sire of 50 stakes winners including two Champions. In addition, Unbridled is the broodmare sire of more than 60 stakes winners, including leading sire Tapit and Classic winner Shackleford.
Unbridled is buried at Claiborne Farm.