10/02/2014 3:16PM

DRF Breeding pedigree analysis: Distance a question mark for Alcibiades favorite

Barbara D. Livingston
Fashion Alert won a pair of stakes to start her career, but faces a major challenge as she stretches out to two turns this weekend.

Fashion Alert is perhaps the most-accomplished juvenile running at Keeneland on opening weekend, while Take Charge Brandi may be the best-bred. However, both are major question marks in the opening-day feature, the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes on Keeneland’s new dirt track.

Fashion Alert won her first two career starts, the Astoria Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs and the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at six furlongs, by open lengths. The 1 1/16-mile distance of the Alcibiades will pose a major challenge to her. Runners by sire Old Fashioned have an average winning distance of under 6 1/4 furlongs. Fashion Alert is a half-sister to Renee’s Titan, winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs; their dam, Titan Queen, is a half-sister to three stakes horses, and among those, Silver Prospector scored the longest-distance stakes victory at 1 mile 70 yards. It is the extended family of Grade 1-winning sprinter Mining.

Take Charge Brandi finished second to Fashion Alert in the Schuylerville before checking in unplaced in a pair of graded stakes. The Giant’s Causeway filly’s second dam is Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, meaning dam Charming is a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge and Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy, both top-caliber competitors at route distances. Distance aptitude isn’t the question for this filly – her own ability is.

[More coverage: Race preview | Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies rankings]

One intriguing option is Innovative Idea, a Bernardini filly who won her debut at 6 1/2 furlongs on Arlington’s synthetic track; her pedigree suggests added distance and a switch to dirt could bring out her best. Her dam, the Seeking the Gold mare Golden Velvet, won the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at nine furlongs on the dirt and finished second in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap to champion Ginger Punch; second dam Caress won the Grade 3 Athenia Handicap at nine furlongs on dirt.

Golden Velvet is a half-sister to Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes winner Sky Mesa, who stretched out the following season to finish second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational; they are also half-siblings to graded stakes-placed Monthir and Caressive. Sky Mesa and Caressive are both by A.P. Indy-line stallions, as is Innovative Idea. Caress is a sister to Grade 3 winners Country Cat and Bernstein, the latter an influential sire, and a half-sister to Irish classic-placed filly Della Francesca. It is the extended family of champion juvenile filly Outstandingly and Wise Dan’s sire Wiseman’s Ferry.

Innovative Idea is one of two in the field by Bernardini, along with the maiden Gap Year. That filly will need to overcome a bottom side that tilts heavily toward speed; her dam is Grade 1-winning sprinter Dubai Escapade, a half-sister to brilliant Grade 1 winner and producer Madcap Escapade.