Oaklawn Barn Notes - Wednesday, March 4

December 10, 2019

“Brandi” Ready to “Take Charge” of Rebel Stakes

Take Charge Brandi wasn’t entered Wednesday morning for Saturday’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, paving the way for the champion 2-year-old filly to meet males in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas had said last week that Take Charge Brandi would be entered in the Honeybee, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. But, it became apparent Monday morning that Take Charge Brandi wouldn’t be entered in the Honeybee and instead point for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, a major Kentucky Derby prep.

About four hours after Take Charge Brandi worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 Monday morning, Horton said it had been “pretty much” decided that the filly would run in the Rebel and Lukas was shopping for a rider. Horton’s preference throughout the process was to run in the Rebel. Jon Court rode the filly in the Martha Washington.

“I really want to find out how good she is,” Horton said. “If she can beat the boys, I think her better chance of doing that is early than later in the year, because the boys will start really gaining. I’m just wanting to take a chance on beating the boys. I’m just trying to build her resume up.”

Lukas called Monday’s work, the third for Take Charge Brandi since winning the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31, a “maintenance” move.

Lukas has maintained since December that Take Charge Brandi is being pointed for the Kentucky Oaks, not the Kentucky Derby. Take Charge Brandi, who has never faced males, has won 5 of 9 career starts and earned $1,680,126. She has won four consecutive races.

The presence of Take Charge Brandi further enhances a blockbuster March 14 program. Also scheduled to run in the Rebel is 2-year-old champion male American Pharoah.

The $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares is expected to attract 2014 champion 3-year-old filly Untapable. Multiple stakes winner Tapiture is also expected to make his 4-year-old debut in the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses. Tapiture hasn’t started since finishing second in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Oct. 31 at Santa Anita.

Lucky again?

Champion Lookin At Lucky won his 3-year-old debut in the 2010 Rebel Stakes. Now, a son from his first crop, will try to win the same race in 2015.

The plan is for Madefromlucky to make his stakes debut in the $750,000 G2 race March 14, a representative of the colt’s co-owner, Cheyenne Stables (Everett Dobson), said Wednesday morning.

Madefromlucky, based in south Florida with trainer Todd Pletcher, has won his last two starts, including an entry-level allowance/optional claiming score at 1 1/8 miles Feb. 4 at Gulfstream Park.

Madefromlucky worked five furlongs in :59.14 – second-fastest of eight recorded at the distance – Monday at Palm Beach Downs.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez is scheduled to ride Madefromlucky, a winner of 2 of 5 career starts, in the Rebel.

Beast Mode

The Big Beast earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97 for his 1 ¼-length comeback victory in a conditioned allowance sprint Sunday under leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. Trainer Tony Dutrow said Monday morning that The Big Beast appeared fine physically and is scheduled to make his next start in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9.

Dutrow said before the meeting began that The Big Beast would race twice at Oaklawn, with the ultimate goal being the Count Fleet. The 4-year-old colt’s comeback race, Dutrow said in late January, would come around March 1.

“It’s all just turned out very, very good for us,” Dutrow said.

In Sunday’s race, The Big Beast tracked multiple stakes winner Alsvid through a :22.82 opening quarter and a :46.35 half-mile. Without feeling the whip, The Big Beast wore down Alsvid on the outside in the final furlong en route to his fourth consecutive victory – and first outside New York. The Big Beast ran six furlongs over a good-rated surface in 1:10.68.

“Those horses made him run,” Dutrow said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for those horses that tried him.”

It marked the first start for The Big Beast since winning the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) Aug. 23 at Saratoga. The Big Beast came out of the race with a tiny ankle chip and didn’t resume training until the fall.

Dutrow had targeted Saturday’s $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes for The Big Beast’s comeback, but preferred a March 1 fourth-level allowance race in the condition book. That race didn’t go, but racing secretary Pat Pope tweaked the conditions and brought it back as an extra. Dutrow said he always “hoped” to run in the allowance race, rather than the Hot Springs.

“If we had no choice but to run in the stake, we would have,” Dutrow said. “But we really didn’t want to ask the ‘Beast’ to run a superior race first time out in over six months.”

The Big Beast finished a troubled second in his March 29, 2014, career debut at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Hobby. The horse was transferred to Dutrow following that race and reeled off three consecutive victories last summer in New York, including the King’s Bishop in his stakes debut.

Owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark., employ both Hobby and Dutrow.

Don’t blink(s)

Mr. Z worked five furlongs in 1:03.80 Monday morning without blinkers, equipment he has worn in his last five races, including third-place finishes in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 and the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22.

Lukas said he is considering running Mr. Z without blinkers in his next scheduled start, the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) March 28 at Fair Grounds.

“We’ll see how he handles that,” Lukas said following Monday’s work. “I’m not saying that I’m going to leave them off him. I’m just saying I’m going to experiment without them.”

Lukas said removing blinkers will let Mr. Z “see a little bit more,” but added the 3-year-old colt “didn’t have much blinker, anyhow.”

“It was a cut-back cup,” Lukas said.

Corey Nakatani, who rode Mr. Z for the first time in the Southwest, is scheduled to ride the colt in the Louisiana Derby.

Mr. Z is being pointed to the Louisiana Derby because champion American Pharoah, also owned by Zayat Stables, is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14. American Pharoah is based in Southern California with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Finish Lines

Unbeaten Promise Me Silver and sparkling Feb. 20 entry-level allowance winner Pangburn are among nine 3-year-old fillies entered in Saturday's $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles. ... Ivan Fallunovalot and Gentlemen's Bet are among seven older sprinters entered in Saturday's $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes at six furlongs. ... Trainer Tony Dutrow said he will confer with co-owner Alex Lieblong before a decision is reached on the 3-year-old debut of Grade 2 winner I Spent It. Dutrow said the son of Super Saver should be ready to run late this month. I Spent It, who worked five furlongs in :59.80 between races Sunday, hasn’t started since the fall after having a small bone chip removed from a knee. … Multiple stakes winner Alsvid had run second in all six career starts at Oaklawn before finishing third in Sunday’s eighth race, a third-level allowance sprint for older horses. … Oaklawn racing department members Glenn Reeder and Lenny Rera will be on the road soliciting nominations for the upcoming Racing Festival of the South. Reeder will be in Southern California March 12-16; Rera will be in south Florida March 15-19.

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