Updated on 09/16/2011 8:50AM

A cakewalk for 'Lady' on short rest


HOUSTON - Just nine days after she finished second in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs, Take Charge Lady rebounded with an easy 3 1/2-length win over Mystic Lady in the $206,000 Great State Challenge Distaff, one of six divisional races on an all-stakes card at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday.

The field for the Distaff was reduced from six horses to four following the scratches of Hunka Hunka Lori Z, who could not make travel arrangements, and Eagle Lake, who instead won an undercard stakes, the $50,000 Texas Stallion. There was no show or trifecta wagering as a result, and Take Charge Lady created a minus place pool of $88,926. She paid $2.20 to win and $2.10 to place.

Owners Jerry and Feye Bach and trainer Ken McPeek began looking at the Great State in October, and debated whether to run Take Charge Lady back on short rest for the race following the Falls City.

"We had a long talk about doing it," said McPeek. "It's one of those things you put your neck on the line if it doesn't work out right, but this was the right spot."

Take Charge Lady took charge of the 1 1/16-mile Distaff in the first turn under Edgar Prado, leading the field through an opening quarter of 25 seconds and the half in 49.70 seconds. Through the stretch she asserted her class, turning back a brief bid by Mystic Lady and going on to cover the distance over a fast track in 1:44.40.

The win closed out an exceptional 3-year-old season for Take Charge Lady, who won six stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Ashland and Grade 1 Spinster. She earned $120,000 for the Distaff win to push her earnings to $1,760,351. McPeek said earlier this week that Take Charge Lady would get a few months off and return in the spring.

Coastalota finished third, nine lengths behind Mystic Lady. It was another 5 3/4 lengths back in fourth to Graceful Cat.