In 2007, I laid eyes on what was probably the most exciting moment I’ve ever had watching a horse race from the TV. Rags to Riches, the lone filly in the Belmont Stakes (I), fell to her knees at the start before comparing shoulders with Curlin. Back and forth they went in the stretch, until the chromey lass prevailed over one of the indisputably best modern racehorses. It was the first time in over a hundred years a filly won the huge race, and now this year, we have one of Curlin’s first boys and a daughter of his arch-rival Street Sense competing in the third jewel of the Triple Crown.
Unlimited Budget has proven to be a pretty consistent runner, racing under the blue-and-orange colors of Repole and under the guidance of Todd Pletcher, who also trained Rags to Riches. “Budgie” looked like a good value bet heading into a loaded Kentucky Oaks (I) field, and despite being jostled at the start, pulled ahead in the stretch to finish a strong third. The pace in the Oaks was rapid thanks to Beholder, who held up well under stress to remain 2nd, but she set up for the closing Princess of Sylmar who won. A three-time graded winner, it was Unlimited Budget’s first defeat. It was honestly not a bad race overall, but not one telling of how far she’s willing to go.
For the Belmont, Budgie has a couple questions to answer:
- Can she go from winning at 9 furlongs to 12?
- Can she overcome her pedigree? I still regard Street Sense pretty highly as a sire (though he is only proving himself late), but Valid Appeal is the damsire without much else worth mentioning. Valid Appeal was a decent middle-distance goer, but hasn’t thrown a lot in the way of classic ability.
In other tidbits, top rider Rosie Napravnik is slated to ride and the filly looks fit, breezing a bullet 4 panels in :47 1/2 that looked smooth to onlookers.