Updated on 09/16/2011 7:18AM

Farda Amiga surprises in Oaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Twenty-five years after winning his first Kentucky Oaks at age 22, veteran jockey Chris McCarron captured the filly classic for the third time Friday when Farda Amiga ran down favored Take Charge Lady to post a 20-1 upset at Churchill Downs.

Farda Amiga, fourth at an even bigger price behind You and Habibti in the Santa Anita Oaks eight weeks ago, collared front-running Take Charge Lady before surging past to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The winner returned $42, the longest-priced Oaks winner since Gal in a Ruckus won at a $70 mutuel in 1995.

"This might have been a surprise to a lot of people, but it wasn't to me," said McCarron, whose two previous Oaks wins came with Sweet Alliance in 1977 and Seaside Attraction in 1990. "She ran super in the Santa Anita Oaks and had been training beautifully since. She's a filly who has gotten progressively better."

Victory in the Grade 1, $562,100 Oaks was easily the biggest ever for trainer Paulo Lobo, 33, who moved his small stable to California just over a year ago. Lobo's father, Selmar, is one of the most successful trainers in their native Brazil.

"It's amazing, it's amazing," said an elated Lobo. "I always had a dream to try in the United States."

Take Charge Lady, the 8-5 favorite under Tony D'Amico, finished another 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Habibti, whose jockey, Victor Espinoza, claimed foul against the winner for alleged interference near the eighth pole. The objection was quickly dismissed.

On a cool afternoon, Take Charge Lady took immediate command of the 1 1/8-mile race, holding a short lead into the first turn over longshots Take the Cake and Ile de France. Just behind the top flight was You, the 2-1 second choice, and Imperial Gesture, the 7-2 third choice who had broken poorly and encountered considerable trouble through the opening furlong.

Leaving the backstretch, as You moved to challenge Take Charge Lady, Farda Amiga also edged closer. As You's bid fizzled, Farda Amiga moved even closer while widest of all. At the eighth pole, Take Charge Lady still led by 1 1/2 lengths, but "my filly had a full head of steam," said McCarron. Indeed, she went past with relative ease to finish in 1:50.41 over a fast track.

You finished fourth, a half-length behind Habibti, followed by Take the Cake, Ile de France, Ms Brookski, Imperial Gesture, and Art Fair. Bella Bellucci was an early scratch.

D'Amico said he thought he was "home free at the head of the lane. My filly dug in. She never gave up."

Jerry Bailey, jockey of You, said his mount "just couldn't keep up."

Farda Amiga, bred in Kentucky by Payson Stud Inc., is by Broad Brush out of the Pleasant Colony mare Fly North. She is owned by Julio Camargo, Marcos Simon, and Jose de Camargo, all of Brazil. The filly began her career by going 2 for 4 on turf, after which she ran fourth, beaten two lengths in the March 9 Santa Anita Oaks at 35-1. She earned $348,502 with her first stakes win.

The 1-9 exacta paid $168.40 and the 1-9-2 trifecta paid $728.

Attendance was 101,293, third-largest in Oaks history. The record of 106,156 was set two years ago.