Unbridled’s Song retired to stud with great fanfare. He was from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled whose first crop of runners was hotly anticipated. Unbridled’s Song made headlines even before he raced. He was sold for $1.4 million as a two year old, a world record at the time. However the sale fell through when a bone chip was detected in the big, rangy colt and owner Ernie Paragallo would keep the colt to race. That became a fortuitous series of events as the colt Unbridled’s Song went on to win the grade one Florida Derby and the grade two Wood Memorial. He started as the favorite in the Kentucky Year but a hoof problem hindered his chances and the race was won by another son of Unbridled, Grindstone.
Unbridled’s Song was an imposing physical specimen, as indicated by his high price tag as a two year old. He was what breeder’s call a very forward individual – from a young age he was big but also well balanced and he was able to run fast as a two year old. He was a hot commodity when he retired to stud and immediately delivered on the promise he showed early on. His first crop of runners included Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine,Fountain of Youth (G1) winner Songandaprayer, along with graded stakes winners Even the Score and Griffinite. He would eventually go on to sire champions Midshipmen, Embur’s Song and Arrogate as well as over 100 stakes winners. His runners earned over $100 million.
There was one glaring omission in the stud career of Unbridled’s Song. In spite of siring a number of top class male runners only two of his sons at stud had produced grade one winners and neither were considered possible successors to the remarkable stallion. Even the Score from Unbridled’s Song’s first crop sired two grade one winners, 2009 Secretariat Stakes winner Take the Points and Dullahan who won three grade ones as a two and three year old in 2011 and 2012. The regally bred First Defence was out of the great sprint mare Honest Lady, a half sister to Empire Maker, another son of Unbridled. The Juddmonte Farms homebred was given every opportunity to succeed at stud and did sire Close Hatches for the farm. The filly was foaled in 2010 and was a grade one winner at three and four and earned a championship that year. He also sired 2017 grade one winner Antonoe. Even the Score continues to stand in Kentucky for a $5,000 fee and First Defence was sold to stand in Saudi Arabia.
At the time of his death it looked like his male line might end with him but some of his best male runners were about to emerge. His son Graydar had won the Donn Handicap (G1) just months before his sire’s death. He added two grade two wins to his resume but injury cut his career down to only six starts of which he won five. After his death Unbridled’s Song saw his son Cross Traffic win the 2014 Whitney Handicap (G1), Liam’s Map won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Woodward Handicap (G1) and of course Arrogate started winning major G1s in 2016. There was a common theme with all of these horses, they were late developing sons of Unbridled’s Song who could carry their speed around two turns. It has been noted that early in his career Unbridled’s Song was bred to smaller mares in order to get more precocious runners but later in his career he tended to attract larger mares with the intent to breed more classic oriented foals.
Graydar was the first to retire to stud at a fee of $15,000. That number has decreased to $7,500 for 2018 as his first runners have not delivered on the promise of their sire. He has sired G2 winner Lombo from his first crop but is currently rated 10th on the Second Crop Sire List for North America.
Cross Traffic has his first two year olds in 2018 and his best runner is the recent Frizette Stakes (G1) winner Jaywalk. That marks the first grade one winning two year old for a son of Unbridled’s Song since Dullahan in 2011. Jaywalk has won three of her four starts and heads into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies as one of the favorites. Cross Traffic made all of his starts at age four so it is somewhat surprising to see him getting a two year old grade one winner. It moves him into second place in the 2018 Freshman Sires List by earnings and he leads the list by number of black type stakes horses with six. What may have helped Cross Traffic is his female line. He is out of the multiple grade one winning mare Stop Traffic who produced Thirteen Arrows, a filly who earned multiple stakes wins early as a three year old. That said one would assume Cross Traffic’s offspring would improve with age and distance.
Liam’s Map and Arrogate are still in the pipeline for Unbridled’s Song. He has another young son in graded stakes winner Bird Song who was not as successful a racehorse as the previously mentioned horses and retired to modest expectations but he is out of a half sister to successful sire Birdstone. The success of Cross Traffic’s first foals as two year olds certainly brings hope to breeder’s looking for a successor to the mighty Unbridled’s Song.