From Race Horses to Roses (Part Three): Unbridled

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‘Unbridled’ in the garden. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

The Thoroughbred:

A thoroughbred‘s greatness is typically measured in the number of wins, but greatness can also be based on other attributes. In 1990, Unbridled vied for the Triple Crown: he won the Kentucky Derby, placed at Preakness, and came in an underwhelming fourth at the Belmont Stakes. That same year, Unbridled won the Breeders’ Cup Classic which earned him The Eclipse Award as a 3-year old. However, Unbridled’s most notable contribution to horse racing is his role as patriarch of a bloodline of champions. He sired 292 runners including one winner of each of the Triple Crown races (Grindstone- the 1996 Kentucky Derby, Red Bullet- the 2000 Preakness, and Empire Maker- the 2003 Belmont Stakes). Further down the bloodline is Grindstone‘s foal, Birdstone, who stunned Smarty Jones to win the Belmont in 2004–preventing a Triple Crown. Birdstone sired Mine That Bird who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Summer Bird who won the 2009 Belmont Stakes. Thus far three generations of Triple Crown race champions is the legacy Unbridled has left on the racing world. Unbridled retired with a career record of 8 wins, 6 places and 6 shows in 24 starts.

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1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. Photo courtesy of Gallery of Champoins

The Rose:

‘Unbridled‘ is an offspring of a ‘Rosie O‘ Donnell‘ and ‘Fairhope‘ cross that was then crossed with the great miniflora ‘Conundrum‘. When looking at the plant and the habit of the bloom I would say ‘Unbridled‘ inherits most of its traits from ‘Conundrum‘ except its large bloom size, which carried over from the hybrid tea ‘Rosie O’ Donnell’. The core of the bloom is white with the throat having a tint of light yellow with a pink to coral edge.  Of course, the variations and intensity of the colors will vary depending on the climate- such as the amount of sun, humidity, and temperature. Blooms are often at their best exhibition stage 1/2 to 2/3 open and are cupped just like ‘Conundrum‘ with a wonderful spiral. Like ‘Conundrum’ you will rarely see ‘Unbridled‘ shown with the petals at the horizontal plane as the bloom is usually too far open and the spiral will run out of gas. That said, I have seen some really good ‘Unbridleds‘ hold a pin point center even when the outer petals were at parallel, which is something not even the best ‘Conundrum‘ is capable of doing. Blooms on the bigger stems border on being too big and can challenge small floribundas.

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‘Unbridled’ in the garden. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

‘Unbridled’ is a medium/tall grower and upright, and has average vigor with matte green/grey foliage that can be prone to mildew if not kept in check. David told me ‘Unbridled‘ is fine on its own roots but really shines on multiflora or, for southern growers, on fortuniana rootstock. Since ‘Unbridled’ is capable of having big blooms with large foliage, the amount of fertilizer should be kept in check.

David and Tammy Clemons pose with the 2013 Miniflora National Queen of Show at the 2013 Winston-Salem, NC All Miniature National Rose Show. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

Personally, I have had fairly good luck with ‘Unbridled’ as a show rose. I won Miniflora Queen with it at the Maryland Rose Show in 2012 and have placed on the National Court of Honor at the 2011 Winston-Salem, NC Nationals and was one of the ten roses featured in my winning J. Benjamin Williams National Collection. This fall David Clemons himself recorded the first National Miniflora Queen for Unbridled at the 2013 All Miniature National Rose Show in Winston-Salem, NC. This was the 12th time a rose hybridized by David Clemons was awarded the National Miniature or Miniflora Queen of Show. ‘Unbridled’ was the 18th ranked miniflora rose in 2012 according to statistics by Roseshow.com.

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David wins the miniflora Queen with ‘Unbridled’, King with ‘Whirlaway’, and Princess with ‘Foolish Pleasure’ . The thoroughbred trifecta. Photo by David Clemons.

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Beautiful exhibition bloom of ‘Unbridled’. Photo by David Clemons.

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