05/14/2002 12:00AM

Infection KO's Take Charge Lady

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Take Charge Lady, who figured as an overwhelming favorite Friday in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, was scratched from the race early Tuesday after being diagnosed with a lung infection.

Take Charge Lady worked a sharp three furlongs in 35 seconds Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. Afterward, she was subjected to an endoscopic examination, and it was determined that she "had pretty much mucous" in her lungs, said trainer Ken McPeek.

"Before you put a horse on a plane and spend all that money, it's usually wise to go ahead and look them over real carefully," said McPeek.

McPeek said he was not surprised that Take Charge Lady, owned by the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach, worked so well. "What happens, though, is (rigorous exercise) bumps up the infection," he said. "There's no way we can run after what we found."

Take Charge Lady has established herself as perhaps the top 3-year-old filly in North America, having finished second as the favorite in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks after winning three straight stakes to open her season. McPeek said he hopes Take Charge Lady will recover sufficiently to make her next start May 25 in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile race at Churchill.

The defection of Take Charge Lady leaves a field of seven 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 2, $200,000 Black Eyed Susan.