09/25/2002 12:00AM

Remarkable value in Indian Charlie

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LAS VEGAS - How soon they forget.

Undefeated in four starts, including an easy victory in the Santa Anita Derby, Indian Charlie (by In Excess) was the favorite in the 1998 Kentucky Derby but finished third to stablemate Real Quiet and never raced again. Fast-forward four years and Indian Charlie is one of this year's freshman sires. His 2-year-olds are performing brilliantly, but horseplayers must have a short memory because many of his runners are lighting up tote boards around the country.

Indian Charlie is the best runner by California-based stallion In Excess, an exceptional source of high speed. Bred to a modest book of mares every year, In Excess continues to get runners with precocious speed who are brilliant at 2, including this year's Del Mar Futurity winner, Icecoldbeeratreds. When bred to a mare of quality, such as the stakes-winning Leo Castelli mare Soviet Sojourn, In Excess produced the high-class Indian Charlie. Soviet Sojourn won the Junior Miss Stakes and Sorrento Stakes and finished second in the Oak Leaf Stakes, Del Mar Debutante, and Landaluce Stakes, and was third in the Hollywood Starlet and Santa Ynez Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Because he is by speed sire In Excess and won his Del Mar maiden race by 12 lengths at 2, it is hardly surprising that his juveniles also show win-early talent. Those players who use pedigree as a handicapping tool have been richly rewarded following the offspring of Indian Charlie.

His 2-year-old winners include:

Jazz Lady (out of Jazzy One, by Horatius): On May 22, Jazz Lady finished third at nearly 6-1 in her maiden debut, a five-furlong allowance at Lone Star Park. Jazz Lady must have been highly regarded by her trainer, William Calhoun, to start her out in an allowance race, but Jazz Lady rewarded her connections when she ran big in her second start to capture the TTA Sales Futurity (fillies division) by six lengths, paying $59.80. With three major speed influences - Horatius, Admiral's Voyage, and Bolinas Boy - in her pedigree, Jazz Lady was bred to be quick at 2.

Ionia (out of Signorita Cielo, by Conquistador Cielo): In a baby race loaded with potential stars on Aug. 4, Ionia posted a wire-to-wire victory in her debut at Del Mar in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at nearly 45-1. Included in the 12-horse field was Joharra (Kris S.), a half-sister to Tempera from Godolphin Racing, as well as Kelli Lee, another daughter of Kris S. trained by Richard Mandella. Finishing fourth was the highly regarded Atlantic Ocean, who won last weekend's Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies and is considered one of the leading contenders for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Ionia won with speed to spare by three lengths and returned $91.

Forthelifeofme (out of Run for My Life, by Fit to Fight): The very first winner by Indian Charlie, Forthelifeofme was fast enough to win a two-furlong maiden race on April 17 at Santa Anita by a head. She is one of the few runners by Indian Charlie who was heavily bet in her first start, and paid $5.40.

Princess Birdeye (out of Smart Lady, by Northern Prospect): Probably because of her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, Princess Birdeye was sent off as the second choice and finished second behind the favorite in her June 14 debut at Lone Star. Off that effort, Princess Birdeye won her second start at 4-5 by 2 1/2 lengths.

Midnight Charlie (out of Isleworth, by Mt. Livermore): Fourth in his Belmont debut on June 28 at nearly 23-1, Midnight Charlie finished third to eventual Hopeful and Futurity Stakes runner-up Pretty Wild in his second start on July 13 at almost 13-1. Improving with each start, Midnight Charlie saved his best for Saratoga, where he won his third start on Aug. 31, paying $40.

Choctaw Charlie (out of Rockford Peach, by Great Above): Choctaw Charlie finished third at 11-1 in his debut at Churchill Downs on June 29 behind Slammed, a Grand Slam colt who died shortly after his runaway victory. In his next start on July 20 at Ellis Park, Choctaw Charlie easily won a maiden race by 5 1/2 lengths as the 7-5 favorite.

Askforaraise (out of Wild Raise, by Wild Again): Askforaraise won a $25,000 maiden claiming race at Calder on Aug. 25 in her debut by 2 3/4 lengths, paying $23.20, and finished third in an allowance race on Sept. 22 at 9-1.

Indian Charlie was a colt of immense talent, and the success of his first crop will undoubtedly attract better-quality mares. Retired to stud at The Vinery, where he commanded a stud fee of $10,000, Indian Charlie was recently relocated to Brereton Jones's Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., but his stud fee has not been announced for 2003. His runners should be played with confidence on dirt and turf up to 1 1/16 miles.