11/01/2014 3:37PM

Take Charge Brandi upsets BC Juvenile Fillies

Emily Shields
Take Charge Brandi and jockey Victor Espinoza score a 61-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It won’t quite make up for losing last year’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose with Will Take Charge, but those same connections experienced quite a thrill Saturday when Take Charge Brandi upset the $2 million Juvenile Fillies at 61-1  at Santa Anita.

Taking advantage of a speed bias reminiscent of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Friday card here, Take Charge Brandi was sent to the front by jockey Victor Espinoza and led every step of the way, winning by a half-length over a wide and closing Top Decile. It was a half-length farther back to Wonder Gal, who nosed out Feathered for third.

She was followed by Danette, Puca, Conquest Eclipse, By the Moon, Majestic Presence, Angela Renee (the 3-1 favorite), Cristina’s Journey, and Hennythelovepenny.

The win was the 20th Breeders’ Cup victory for the 79-year-old D. Wayne Lukas – by far the most of any trainer in the 31-year history of the event – and his sixth win in the Juvenile Fillies. It was the first Breeders’ Cup victory for owner Willis Horton, who also owned Will Take Charge. Charming, the dam of Take Charge Brandi, is a half-sister to Will Take Charge, last year’s 3-year-old champion male.

This summer at Saratoga, Lukas and Horton bought a yearling half-sister to Take Charge Brandi by War Front for the sale-topping price of $1.25 million. Her name will be Take Charge Tressa.

“We got the whole factory,” Lukas said.

Take Charge Brandi was dismissed by bettors because of double-digit-length losses in three consecutive graded stakes – the Adirondack at Saratoga, the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, and the Alcibiades at Keeneland.

But Lukas knows his clients want to play on the big stage, and with the filly training well, he decided to give it a shot. It is something he has done many times in the past.

“These owners … want to be in this arena,” Lukas said. “They want to win when the whole world is watching.”

“The big thing that I really am proud of is that she is a part of the family of the big horse, Will Take Charge,” Horton said. “I’m looking for a great future in this filly and to go on with her, and hope I get to come back to the Breeders’ Cup next year.”

It rained overnight at Santa Anita, and the track was listed as “good” to start the day. Front-runners won the first three races, hinting at a speed bias. The track was upgraded to “fast” after the second race.

Espinoza hustled Take Charge Brandi to the lead, and she outsprinted the likes of Feathered and By the Moon to the front in fractions of 22.22 seconds for the quarter, 45.99 for the half-mile, and 1:10.07 for six furlongs.

Approaching the quarter pole, Espinoza hit Take Charge Brandi, which was not a good thing.

“She put the brakes on me. I felt like if I hit her one more time, she would not keep going, so I stopped hitting her,” Espinoza said. “If I get beat, then I get beat, but I’m not going to take my chances and hit her. She put her head down and got to running again.”

Take Charge Brandi kept on running and held off Top Decile, who was rallying five wide under Rosie Napravnik.

Take Charge Brandi, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.95. She returned $125.40 as the longest shot in the field.

Take Charge Brandi was Espinoza’s second Breeders’ Cup winner. His other one came aboard the Lukas-trained Spain, who won the 2000 Distaff at Churchill Downs, returning $113.80.

Top Decile, breaking from post 11, may have had too much to do, being caught wide around both turns. Trainer Al Stall wasn’t making excuses.

“We got beat,” Stall said. “You see a horse like that who we [beat] last time. Wayne Lukas, he’s my man.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Angela Renee “got creamed” leaving the starting gate and “never really settled into a good rhythm.”

Feathered, also trained by Pletcher “got into a good spot and ran well. She didn’t get beat that far.”