New Crowned Champion Take Charge Brandi Gets Back to Work

Take Charge Brandi’s first full day as a champion was a work day. Preparing for her scheduled 3-year-old de-but in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 at Oaklawn, Take Charge Brandi worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.40 just after the track opened for training Sunday morning. The surface was rated fast.

Take Charge Brandi was named champion 2-year-old filly during the 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony Saturday night at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he watched the event from his barn office.

“Very happy,” Lukas said Sunday morning.

Sunday’s work was Take Charge Brandi’s second recorded at Oaklawn, following a half-mile move in :51 Jan. 12.

Take Charge Brandi closed her 2014 campaign with three consecutive victories, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita and the $350,000 Starlet (G1) Dec. 13 at Los Alamitos.

Victor Espinoza rode Take Charge Brandi in both of those races, but Lukas said he may not be available for the Martha Washington because of possible conflicts that day in California, where the jockey is based. Corey Lan-erie rode Take Charge Brandi in her first four career starts. The filly was ridden Luis Saez and Paco Lopez in her two other starts last year.

Lopez guided Take Charge Brandi to victory in the $400,000 Delta Princess (G3) Nov. 22 at Delta Downs in Louisiana.
 
2014 Eclipse Award winners
Two-Year-Old Male: American Pharoah
Two-Year-Old Filly: Take Charge Brandi
Three-Year-Old Male: California Chrome
Three-Year-Old Filly: Untapable
Older Male: Main Sequence (5)
Older Female: Close Hatches (4)
Male Sprinter: Work All Week (5)
Female Sprinter: Judy the Beauty (5)
Male Turf Horse: Main Sequence (5)
Female Turf Horse: Dayatthespa (5)
Steeplechase Horse: Demonstrative (7)
Owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey
Breeder: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Apprentice Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Horse of the Year: California Chrome (3)
BOLD Raced at Oaklawn
NOTE Horse 2014 ages in parentheses where applicable. First-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters, determined winners.
 
Home of Champions

Two horses who won stakes races at Oaklawn during the 2014 meeting captured Eclipse Awards – the equine version of the Oscars – Saturday night.

Close Hatches, who won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and $200,000 Azeri Stakes (G2), was named champion older female.

Work All Week, who wintered at Oaklawn, was named champion male sprinter after winning five races, including the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn.

Don’t Tell Sophia, winner of Oaklawn’s $100,000 Pippin Stakes and $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes, finished third in voting for champion older female.

Bayern, third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), was runner-up for champion 3-year-old male and third in voting for Horse of the Year.

“I think it speaks to the quality of our racing,” said David Longinotti, Oaklawn’s director of racing. “The key is to improve year after year.”

In addition to Close Hatches and Work All Week, Take Charge Brandi was named champion 2-year-old filly.

Owned by Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark., Take Charge Brandi is wintering at Oaklawn and scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut in the track's $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31.

Take Charge Brandi is trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

Drayden Van Dyke, who grew up near Oaklawn and graduated in 2012 from nearby Lake Hamilton High School, was named champion apprentice jockey.

First-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, determined winners.
 
Points, Points, Points

Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes remains one of Oaklawn’s four races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” a series that awards points, on a sliding scale, to the top four finishers in each event.

Points accumulated in designated races determine starting preference in the Kentucky Derby, if more than 20 horses enter. The race is limited to 20 starters.

The Smarty Jones and $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 16 will again offer 10 points to the winner, 4 to the runner-up, 2 to the third-place finisher and 1 to the fourth-place finisher.

The point breakdown remains the same for the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

It’s 50-20-10-5 for the Rebel and 100-40-20-10 for the Arkansas Derby.

This will be the third year Churchill Downs has used the tiered point system to determine Kentucky Derby starting preference.
 
Finish Lines

Sugar Shock, scheduled to make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters, worked a bullet half-mile (:48) Sunday morning. Sugar Shock won the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) last April at Oaklawn. … Brewing, a multiple-stakes winning sprinter at the 2014 Oaklawn meet-ing, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 Sunday morning. Brewing is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in a Thursday allowance/optional claiming sprint. … Retired jockey Larry Melancon is getting on horses in the morning for trainer Al Stall Jr., who has a division again this year at Oaklawn.

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