Updated on 09/16/2011 7:26AM

Tough to get past Take Charge Lady


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sometimes the Dogwood Stakes attracts the kind of field to match its Grade 3 rating.

But occasionally a genuine standout from the 3-year-old filly division finds her way into the Dogwood, a horse who, for one reason or another, is between starts in more prestigious events.

My Juliet (1975), Mrs. Revere (1984), Gal in a Ruckus (1995), and Nasty Storm (2001) are among the top-class fillies to have made quick work of the Dogwood before or after more impressive feats. And when the Dogwood is run again Saturday at Churchill Downs, there figures to be another filly assimilated into that elite group: Take Charge Lady.

Seven fillies were entered in the $100,000 Dogwood, a 1 1/16-mile race in which Take Charge Lady, to be ridden as usual by Tony D'Amico, figures to be an overwhelming favorite when she breaks from post 6.

The Dogwood was not on the original itinerary for Take Charge Lady, but after she was diagnosed with a minor lung infection several days before the May 17 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, trainer Ken McPeek opted to wait another week and stay home for the Dogwood.

The lung infection, said McPeek, "really wasn't a big deal. We cleaned it up, got her back to training. This happened to be the race that best fit our schedule."

Take Charge Lady, a Dehere filly owned by the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach, was a graded winner at 2 before developing into a divisional star this year. She opened her season by winning three straight stakes, culminating with the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland, before setting most of the pace and finishing second behind Farda Amiga in her most recent appearance, the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

Clearly, those credentials dwarf what the other fillies bring to the Dogwood table. Perhaps the second choice will be Allamerican Bertie, who won a May 2 entry-level allowance in her last start and will be ridden again by Pat Day.

The rest of the field is Charmed Gift, Jaramar Rain, Summer Delight, French Satin, and Reason to Talk.

Two earlier allowance races help to make the Saturday card an outstanding one.

In the third race, Slider, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 120 in his last start, faces four others in a $62,400 allowance. And in the eighth race, a $65,000 allowance that directly precedes the Dogwood, Sky Terrace makes his first start since winning the April 27 Derby Trial.

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