If Courvoisier can run up to his exquisite pedigree by winning the Kentucky Derby (G1), he would fill a gap on the resume of top sire Tapit, and make history for his dam, Take Charge Brandi. She would become the first champion two-year-old filly of the modern era to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, and only the second in American racing history.
Tapit, the 2004 Wood Memorial (G1) hero who was ninth in Smarty Jones’s Run for the Roses, is still looking for Kentucky Derby compensation. His champion son Essential Quality was favored to earn the trophy in 2021, only to wind up a wide-trip fourth across the wire. 
Yet Tapit has been a prolific source for the Belmont S. (G1). When Essential Quality rebounded in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion,” he became Tapit’s fourth Belmont winner, a feat achieved only by supersire Lexington in the 19th century. 
Tapit is heir to a rich classic heritage. His paternal grandsire, Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, is a son and grandson of Triple Crown legends. By Seattle Slew and out of a mare by Secretariat, A.P. Indy might have emulated them if not for a quarter-crack in the spring of 1992. But he came back to win the Belmont and ultimately the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Tapit’s dam is by Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion who’s become an influential sire. Among his direct male-line descendants is 2015 Triple Crown sweeper American Pharoah. Tapit’s granddam, Ruby Slippers, is by the last English Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky II, Northern Dancer’s greatest son. 


Courvoisier’s dam, champion Take Charge Brandi, is a daughter of the great Giant’s Causeway, a scion of the Northern Dancer line via Storm Cat. Dubbed the “Iron Horse” for his exploits of winning five straight European majors in the summer of 2000, Giant’s Causeway just missed to Tiznow in that fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Take Charge Brandi mounted a late-season campaign in 2014 to win her divisional Eclipse Award. After springing a 61-1 upset of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), she vindicated her newfound stature by adding the Delta Downs Princess (G3) and Starlet (G1). 

Still, Take Charge Brandi wasn’t a slam-dunk for champion two-year-old filly honors. The other worthy candidate was unbeaten turf sensation Lady Eli. The Eclipse Award voters ended up taking the traditional route of favoring the top dirt filly, Take Charge Brandi, over Lady Eli’s turf form, but the result sparked vigorous debate.

That context becomes more intriguing now that Take Charge Brandi has a promising Derby hopeful. For about a century ago, the only two-year-old filly champion to foal a Kentucky Derby winner – Prudery – shared divisional honors in 1920.

In fact, Prudery came along before championships were formalized by voting in 1936. She’s regarded as the joint-best juvenile filly of her year, along with Careful. Prudery went on to be recognized as sole champion three-year-old filly. Third (as the favored entry) versus the boys in the 1921 Kentucky Derby, Prudery became the dam of 1927 Derby hero Whiskery and 1928 Preakness scorer Victorian. 

Take Charge Brandi is a half-sister to Omaha Beach, the favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby who had to scratch with a throat issue. The Arkansas Derby (G1) victor returned triumphant in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) and outclassed his foes in the Malibu (G1), which turned out to be his career finale.

Omaha Beach and Take Charge Brandi are out of Charming, a daughter of Seeking the Gold. The near-misser in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic (to Alysheba) as well as the Travers (G1) and Haskell (G1) (to Forty Niner), Seeking the Gold is better remembered now as the sire of the great Dubai Millennium.

Charming was produced by the outstanding racer-turned-Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady. The multiple Grade 1 heroine, who earned more than $2.4 million in her career, placed second in the 2002 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and forced Hall of Famer Azeri to dig deep in the 2003 Apple Blossom H. (G1). Take Charge Lady foaled two prominent players on the Derby trail – Take Charge Indy, the 2012 Florida Derby (G1) victor, and Will Take Charge, eventually the champion three-year-old male of 2013. Her latest stakes performer is multiple Grade 2 winner As Time Goes By.

Take Charge Lady is by Dehere, the champion two-year-old male of 1993, and out of a mare by Rubiano, the champion sprinter of 1992. Interestingly, Rubiano is a three-quarter brother to Tapit’s dam, Tap Your Heels. Both are out of Ruby Slippers. Rubiano is by Fappiano, while Tap Your Heels is by Fappiano’s son Unbridled. This duplication adds a further layer to Courvoisier’s pedigree pattern that features inbreeding to Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, and Secretariat, to name those just within five generations.