Take Charge Brandi

Take Charge Brandi

Coady Photography

Take Charge Brandi on Oaks Path, Lukas Says

Hall of Fame trainer not planning to have champion filly challenge males this spring.

Moments after a narrow win by Take Charge Brandi in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 at Oaklawn Park, owner Willis Horton left the door open for his champion to challenge males this spring.

It didn't take long for the 3-year-old filly's Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, to close it the following morning.

Lukas, who said Take Charge Brandi emerged from her Martha Washington victory in good order, reiterated she's being pointed for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I)not the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. ). He said the next two scheduled starts for last year's juvenile filly champion remain the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) March 7 and $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) April 4 at Oaklawn.

"He's having fun with it, I think," Lukas said of Horton's post-race reference to running Take Charge Brandi in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby. "The plan is still the Honeybee, Fantasy, and Oaks."

Take Charge Brandi edged Sarah Sis by a head to win the Martha Washington for her fourth consecutive victory.

Ridden for the first time by Jon Court, Take Charge Brandi cruised on a clear, uncontested lead through a modest :48.10 half-mile before Sarah Sis, on the inside, drew abreast in deep stretch. But, Take Charge Brandi fought back in the final strides before the wire to record her fourth career stakes victory.

Lukas said the outcome again illustrated Take Charge Brandi's will to win. None of her five career victories have been by more than 2 1/2 lengths. Three of those wins, including the Starlet (gr. I) Dec. 13 at Los Alamitos, have been by a half length or less.

"She's very workmanlike," Lukas said. "She knows how to win races. She's cruising along, very relaxed, and then that horse comes to her and she surges back and wins. At Los Alamitos, two or three of them did that to her, and she surged every time they came. Jon, I think, got a little bit complacent and relaxed there, too."

Victor Espinoza rode Take Charge Brandi to her victories in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and Starlet, but was unavailable for the Martha Washington because of commitments in Southern California, Lukas said.

Lukas said he "assumes" Court will ride the filly back in the Honeybee because the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) is also run March 7, and Espinoza is the regular rider of reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome , an expected starter.

Lukas said Court followed instructions Saturday, notably not to use the whip.

"We told him to just cruise around there, get the money and let's go for the next one," Lukas said.