12/02/2002 12:00AM

Take Charge Lady to run

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Take Charge Lady remains a constant in a fluid field for the $275,000 Great State Challenge Distaff at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday. The race is one of six divisional stakes that will make up the inaugural running of the NTRA Great State Challenge.

Take Charge Lady, who won the Grade 1 Spinster in October, is one of the marquee horses expected to run, along with Forbidden Apple, who will start in the Turf. Take Charge Lady will return on eight days' rest for the 1 1/16-mile Distaff. She finished second to Allamerican Bertie in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving.

"She came out of the race great, and that's the only way we would consider running her back," said Ken McPeek, who trains Take Charge Lady for Select Stable. "She ate up in an hour, and that's a real big thing with me."

Edgar Prado will ride Take Charge Lady, who could be part of a full field Saturday despite the expected defections of With Ability, who is entered in a Wednesday allowance at Aqueduct, and Coolbythepool.

As of Monday morning there were 10 probables for the race, according to track officials, among them new name Mystic Lady, who is a Grade 2 winner trained by Mark Hennig.

Take Charge Lady is one of two horses McPeek plans to start in the Great State. He also has Midnight Cry, who ran third in the Grade 1 Spinaway, for the $275,000 Juvenile Fillies. She will be among the favorites in the seven-furlong race, which had eight probables as of Monday. Prado has the mount on Midnight Cry.

The fields for the Great State races will be drawn Wednesday at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Bet the state

As part of the wagering menu Saturday, patrons will be able to bet which state wins the Great State Challenge. Horses will earn points based on finishes in the six races, and at the end of the program, one of the 11 states competing in the event will be named the NTRA Great State Challenge Champion.

There will be nine separate betting interests for the State Wager: California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and the field, which will be Indiana, Iowa, and Washington.

Post for the first race is 1 p.m. Central.

* A flight of horses from Florida was to arrive at Sam Houston on Tuesday. Expected on the plane were Forbidden Apple, probable favorite for the $275,000 Turf; Two Item Limit, for the Distaff; Supah Blitz and Hear No Evil, for the $275,000 Juvenile; and Royal Lad, for the $275,000 Sprint.