Dallas Stewart is approaching this weekend as just another day at the office.
Stewart trains Charles Fipke’s Forever Unbridled, who will be one of an eight-filly field in Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks. While some view Saturday’s race as a pivotal day for both Stewart and the 3-year-old filly, the longtime trainer said he’s approaching this weekend the same as he would any other.
“The way I look at it, is you’ve just got to do your job,” Stewart said. “There’s no point in putting any added pressure on yourself. I just have to show up every day, keep the horses healthy and help them compete at their highest level.”
While being the marquee racing day for 3-year-old fillies at the Fair Grounds, Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks also represents an opportunity for Forever Unbridled to go head to head with her rival, I’m a Chatterbox.
The Larry Jones-trained filly came away with strong victories at both the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and the Silverbulletday Stakes this year, and will try to continue that recent form against Unbridled Forever and a field consisting of seven different horses with stakes experience.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “She’s stepped up whenever we needed her too, and she’s going to have to do it again if she’s going to win this weekend.”
Recent history suggests that winning this race will be even more crucial for the future success of that filly, with six of the past 10 winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks going on to win the Kentucky Oaks.
“We’re just hoping her growth over these past few months can show in the race on Saturday,” Stewart said. “We’ve tried to make sure that she’s stayed healthy, and we think that she’s developed over this period of time.”
While fighting to overcome I’m A Chatterbox’s status as favorite in the race, both Forever Unbridled and Stewart will also be trying to overcome their recent history with a win this weekend.
Stewart trained Lemons Forever in 2006 when she won the Kentucky Oaks, and she foaled both Forever Unbridled and her full sister, Unbridled Forever, in 2011.
Since then, Unbridled Forever finished third in both the Fair Grounds Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks, Stewart has finished second place in the past two Kentucky Derbies and Forever Unbridled has had her struggles defeating I’m A Chatterbox.
With a win Saturday, Stewart can begin to exorcise all of those demons. But if you ask him, he isn’t worried about any of that.
“That sounds great, but we can’t think that far ahead,” Stewart said. “I’ve just got to make sure (Forever Unbridled) runs a good race this weekend, then we’ll figure things out from there.”
Stewart doesn’t worry about making up for his shortcomings in the past, he just wants to go do his job.