Possible Rebel Stakes Run a Good Idea for Take Charge Brandi
Possible Rebel Stakes Run a Good Idea for Take Charge Brandi: In recent days, owner Willis Horton and trainer D. Wayne Lukas gave indications their Eclipse Award winning filly Take Charge Brandi may take on American Pharoah in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 14 at Oaklawn Park, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Surprisingly, fans online seem more positive than negative about the chance of seeing Take Charge Brandi against males, unlike the swirl of controversy surrounding Ria Antonia’s presence in the Preakness last year.
No reason exists for why they should not try. When Take Charge Brandi won a maiden sprint early in her two-year-old season and finished second in the six furlong G2 Schuylerville at Saratoga, she gave the impression of a horse with a future, simply because her pedigree gave no indication of a successful sprinter!
Her stock took a hit after those races with three straight off-the-board finishes, but since they figured out the proper method for riding Take Charge Brandi (just let her roll), she won four times in a row and sits on top of the three-year-old filly division.
As for the criticism on Take Charge Brandi’s form, undoubtedly the low-ish speed figures turn some people off. Handicappers tend to become too caught up in using final speed figures. Because she runs on the lead, Take Charge Brandi accomplishes most of the hard work, or as handicappers call this “dirty work.” Her BRIS pace ratings give no indication she runs slowly up front either, as the lowest E1 figure for her four race win streak was an 89 in the G1 Starlet. The highest were 104s in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and G3 Delta Princess. Unfortunately, the Beyer scale awards no extra credit to horses that set a moderate to fast pace.
In addition, sometimes figure makers mess up because of human error. In Take Charge Brandi’s last start, she won the Martha Washington on the same racetrack and received a 77 Beyer Speed Figure. On the TimeformUS scale, she earned a 95. Accounting for the differences in scale between Beyers and TimeformUS, that 95 translates to no lower than an 85 in Beyer Speed Figure terms. Who is right then? What if she only runs as fast as needed to win? Questions surround those numbers.
Moving past the speed figure debate, Take Charge Brandi certainly has an experienced trainer in terms of taking on males with fillies. The Lukas trained Serena’s Song faced males seven times starting in 1994 through 1996! Sure, Serena’s Song failed sometimes, especially with her 16th place finish in the 1995 Kentucky Derby. But, she triumphed in races such as the Jim Beam and Haskell that year, both important races usually won by three-year-old males.
Lukas also trained 1988 Kentucky Derby and Santa Anita Derby champion Winning Colors, which further proves Lukas’ past success with fillies in open races. Although training the right filly helps, holding that experience in taking on males does not hurt either. Interestingly Take Charge Brandi, Serena’s Song and Winning Colors all possess the same freestyle, up-front running preference.
That might pose a pace strategy problem in the Rebel, because American Pharoah runs in a similar fashion. Maybe American Pharoah needs a race. Sure, trainer Bob Baffert normally prepares horses well coming off a layoff. Exceptions occur, such as when Bayern ran a flat third in the Arkansas Derby last year returning from a minor problem. In any case, a hard race against American Pharoah, no matter the result, would only give a better clue on which path to take going forward.
Differences in male and female racehorses exist. The main reason though, that upper class females do not win or run well against males, is simply because many connections refuse to try. In 1992, a three-year-old female named Jolypha finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic against A.P. Indy. She lost by less than three lengths. Was she that special?
Anyways, if the connections choose the Rebel and Take Charge Brandi fails badly, they just need to put her back on the Oaks path. The idea that running against males somehow dulls the form of a female racehorse appears dubious at best. Perhaps the connections choose the G3 Honeybee for fillies on Saturday instead. They plan to enter that race and assess the potential Rebel field as the week goes on, which is a smart plan.
Good luck to Take Charge Brandi on whichever path they take.