Owner Willis Horton confirmed Feb. 25 that the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park March 14 is under consideration as a target for champion filly Take Charge Brandi, who was originally slated only for a start in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes at the Arkansas oval March 7.
"It's a possibility; we're seriously thinking about it," said Horton, who last year campaigned Take Charge Brandi along with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas to a 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) score and an Eclipse Award as the season's outstanding 2-year-old filly. "I've looked at all the figures and times, and we're talking about a $750,000 race compared to a purse of $150,000. Even if we run third, we still get more money than we would if she won the other race."
The 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes is worth points on the road to the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), awarding 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers. The Honeybee, run over the same distance for 3-year-old fillies, awards the same points toward a spot in the starting gate for the May 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
There are no Derby points races restricted to fillies. Fillies have to run against males in assigned points races to earn Derby points. Although Take Charge Brandi currently ranks fourth on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 40 points, points earned toward the Kentucky Oaks are non-transferable to the Derby.
"If we win the Rebel we get the 50 points for it, and it puts us in a position where we can either go to the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby," Horton said.
Nominations for the Rebel close March 6, while nominations for the Honeybee close Feb. 27. Take Charge Brandi will likely be nominated to both races.
The Rebel is expected to serve as the season debut of Zayat Stables' 2-year-old champion male American Pharoah , who has not raced for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert since winning back-to-back grade I events in September. American Pharoah last worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 handily at Santa Anita Park Feb. 21. Take Charge Brandi also worked that day at Oaklawn, going five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 2/5.
"Fact is, he's been off for a long time and he's coming back from an injury," Horton said. "There are still a lot of question marks, but it won't be long before the question marks have to be answered."
Take Charge Brandi, a 3-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway who concluded her 2014 campaign with a victory in the Starlet Stakes (gr. I) at Los Alamitos after taking the Delta Princess (gr. III) at Delta Downs and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park, came back Jan. 31 to win the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn by a head over the late-charging Sarah Sis.
"She has put on weight and she's grown quite a bit and she's workin' out of the bridle," Horton said.
A $435,000 purchase from the Paramount Sales consignment at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, Take Charge Brandi's career record stands at five wins and a second from nine starts with earnings of $1,680,126. She was bred in Kentucky by Charming Syndicate out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, a daughter of multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady.