"I especially didn't like how [Untapable] was rank on the first turn for no apparent reason." [DRF Live]As I was watching the race in real-time, and on the replay, my take is that Untapable was rank because she got hit in the face with mud kicked up by pacesetter, and eventual winner, Gold Medal Dancer. I've embedded the race replay below; pay particular attention to Untapable just as she's coming off the first turn and entering the backstretch when you'll see her toss her head.
I believe it is at this point in the race where either a) Gold Medal Dancer moved over towards the inside or a) Untapable moved to the outside. Either way, their paths crossed and Untapable went from "in the clear" to "in the mud" and back out to a cleaner trip. To me, she was rank due to the mud in her face and not for just for shits and giggles.
I think the takeaways from the Azeri are three-fold:
-Untapable will certainly be better in her next start after a four month layoff and a return over a muddy track (even if it was called "good"). It wasn't a great performance but there are certainly enough excuses that I'd be willing to draw a line through this one and chalk it up as a conditioning effort.
-I don't think I'd ever be comfortable betting Untapable in another race over an off track. On a dry track, Untapable is many lengths better than the winner. On mud, her great class advantage was significantly erased. Some horses just don't care for the slop and Untapable might be one of those kinds of horses.
-About the only thing I think might have helped Untapable turn the tables and win the Azeri is if Johnny V. would have sent her to the front. While she typically won't engage lead horses early, I think in a race where she was clearly the most talented filly it would have made sense to go to the lead and put the onus on Gold Medal Dancer to chase her over the muddy surface. While it's not her preferred style, I think a front-running trip (which would have kept her out of the mud-in-the-face situation) might have boosted her enough to the victory.
Just my $.02.