11/21/2002 1:00AM

State Challenge selections out

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Led by Continental Red, Easyfromthegitgo, and Take Charge Lady, a total of 149 horses have been selected by their respective state horsemen's organizations to compete in the inaugural National Thoroughbred Racing Association Great State Challenge on Dec. 7 at Sam Houston Race Park.

The Great State Challenge consists of six races, each worth as much as $275,000. Eleven states are participating. The races are limited to horses from jurisdictions where the official state horsemen's association is an NTRA member.

Each race is limited to 14 starters. The top eight NTRA-member horsemen's associations - California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, based on current dues - have been guaranteed one horse in each race. Horses representing other state associations are then granted one position in the main body of the field. States are limited to two starters per race.

Invitations will be sent out Monday. Post positions for the six races will be drawn Dec. 4 at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans.

Take Charge Lady is the most prominent horse expected to compete in the Great State Challenge. She would run in the Distaff, at 1 1/16 miles. Take Charge Lady first, however, will compete in next week's Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Easyfromthegitgo is expected for the Classic, at 1 1/8 miles. Continental Red is expected to run in the Turf, at 1 1/8 miles on grass. Disturbingthepeace and Day Trader are expected for the Sprint, at six furlongs. The other races are the Juvenile and the Juvenile Fillies, both at seven furlongs.