Willis D. Horton's Take Charge Brandi chased a fast pace but would not be denied on Saturday while making her first start since taking the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 1.
Just three weeks after that contest, trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled the Giant's Causeway filly to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess, helping to cement her case for an Eclipse Award as the 2014 champion two-year-old filly. She also earned another 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks as the Princess is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races.
"We don't have a vote because we're a bit prejudiced," Lukas quipped when asked about the Eclipse Awards in the post-race interview. "It sure moved us in the right direction."
The Princess bumped Take Charge Brandi's lifetime earnings to $1,410,126, and her scorecard now stands at 7-3-1-0. Bred by Charming Syndicate, she's more than earned back her $435,000 purchase price as a Keeneland September yearling and could add to her bankroll in December.
Lukas mentioned after the race he is looking at possibly running her back in the Grade 1, $350,000 Starlet at Los Alamitos on December 13.
Jockey Paco Lopez settled Take Charge Brandi just outside of early pacesetter Vivian Da Bling through blistering splits of :22 1/5 and :46 2/5 on Saturday. The early leader couldn't maintain her momentum after those sizzling fractions and faded nearing the final turf, but Take Charge Brandi was still going strong.
Meanwhile, Skipalute rallied from just off the pace to engage Take Charge Brandi around the turn, but could not keep pace as the Kentucky-bred pulled away in the lane to finish a mile on the fast Delta Downs dirt in 1:39 3/5.
"Her class carried her," Lukas asserted, adding that his filly really hadn't taken to the Delta Downs track leading up to the race.
Take Charge Brandi was the 2-1 favorite and returned $6.40 for just her third career score on Saturday. After breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs on June 22, the chestnut juvenile made her stakes bow a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga. She was unable to reach the top four, losing by double digits each time, in her next three before upsetting the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at 61-1 in a wire job.
Take Charge Brandi is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, who is a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge and Grade 1 hero Take Charge Indy. Her second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Take Charge Lady.