03/03/2015 8:20AM

Take Charge Brandi to face males in Rebel Stakes

Email
Coady Photography
Take Charge Brandi wins the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn on Jan. 31.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Take Charge Brandi, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2014, will make her next start in the Grade 2, $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 14, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Tuesday. Her presence in the race sets the stage for a showdown between last year's 2-year-old champions, as the race also is the target for American Pharoah, the champion 2-year-old male of 2014 trained by Bob Baffert.

Take Charge Brandi had been considered for the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee against her own division Saturday at Oaklawn but will not be entered in the race, said Lukas, who trains the champion for Arkansas resident Willis Horton.

“Mr. Horton decided that he would like to take a chance against the colts, for the larger purse, and try the Rebel,” said Lukas.

Lukas said Take Charge Brandi's long-term objective remains the Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

“We’re going run this one and then we’ll take a look at either the Fantasy or Ashland,” Lukas said of the Kentucky Oaks preps run at Oaklawn and Keeneland, respectively.

Lukas said a rider for Take Charge Brandi in the Rebel has not been decided. Jon Court guided the filly to victory in the $100,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn in her 3-year-old debut Jan. 31, while Victor Espinoza teamed with Take Charge Brandi for her win in the Grade 1 Starlet at Los Alamitos on Dec. 13. Lukas said Tuesday morning that the rider situation is being discussed with Horton.

“We have a lot of options,” Lukas said. “The Rebel gives us a lot of options because of the date. The Rebel falls into an open date for various stakes around the country. The Honeybee conflicts with a number of races in Florida and California, whereas the Rebel opens up the door for a lot of possibilities. Our main concern would be that we’d like to get somebody that would stay with her. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be a local rider, either.”   

Take Charge Brandi worked Monday at Oaklawn, going five furlongs in 1:01.80 in company in the first set, on a track rated good. Lukas said Tuesday she emerged from the work in good order and would have one more breeze up to the Rebel, with it likely to be held Saturday or Sunday at Oaklawn.

Take Charge Brandi has won four stakes in her last four starts, a streak that dates back to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.