Few mares are good enough to win the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, which has been one of the nation's premier races for decades, and those who can win it twice are extra special. Since Bornastar won the second and third runnings of the race in 1957-58, only three other mares have won a pair of Spinsters: Susan's Girl (1973 and 1975) and Bayakoa (1989-90) won multiple championships and became important producers.
The most recent mare who was good enough to win the Spinster twice is a bay daughter of Dehere called Take Charge Lady. Bred in Kentucky by Bill Schettine and sold for $145,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling in July 2000, Take Charge Lady won 11 of her 22 starts, earning $2.4 million. She also won each of Keeneland's races for fillies or mares that are now rated Grade 1; in 2001, Take Charge Lady won the Alcibiades, then in 2002 won the Ashland and Spinster, and returned in 2003 to win her second Spinster.
So, it is interesting to note that Take Charge Lady is the granddam of each of the upset winners of the March 16 Rebel Stakes. The second division winner Omaha Beach (by War Front) is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, who is a daughter of Take Charge Lady, and the Rebel first division winner Long Range Toddy is by the mare's son Take Charge Indy, who was the fourth foal out of Take Charge Lady and her first stakes winner. Take Charge Indy won the G1 Florida Derby in 2012, and the dark bay son of A.P. Indy has had graded stakes winners from his first two crops, now 3 and 4.
These are the sorts of results envisioned for Take Charge Lady when she was retired to stud after her 4-year-old season. The sales market took her good looks and high-class performance to heart, and when sent to the 2004 Keeneland November sale, Take Charge Lady proved as exceptional in the sales ring as she had at the racetrack. In foal and carrying her first foal from a cover to leading sire Seeking the Gold (Mr. Prospector), Take Charge Lady sold for $4.2 million to Eaton Sales.
The mare's first foal, born in 2005, is the chestnut Charming, the dam of Omaha Beach. A striking sales yearling who brought $3.2 million from Michael Tabor and James Scatuorchio, Charming won her debut in a maiden special at Keeneland as a 3-year-old, ran second in an allowance to subsequent multiple G1 winner Music Note (A.P. Indy), then led to the half-mile in the Serena's Song Stakes at Monmouth before “taking a bad step” and being vanned off. She never raced again.
Bred in the name of the Charming Syndicate, the mare's second foal was champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), winner of the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Starlet Stakes and a $6 million sale filly at the end of her 3-year-old season at Keeneland November.
Charming has subsequently produced three foals by leading international sire War Front (Danzig). The first of these is Take Charge Tressa, a $1.25 million Saratoga yearling who is unraced; the second is Courage Under Fire, a winner who was second in the G1 Phoenix Stakes in Ireland as a 2-year-old in 2016; the third is Omaha Beach, who has bloomed since moving to dirt and is now a G2 winner for his dam due to his success in the Rebel.
Willis Horton, who bought Take Charge Brandi for $435,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, also bought and raced Take Charge Lady's second stakes winner, Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song), who won the G1 Travers Stakes and the Clark Handicap and then was named champion 3-year-old colt. Will Take Charge is the second G1 winner out of Take Charge Lady, and Horton went back for more from this family which has been so good to him. He bred and races Long Range Toddy, who upset Improbable in the first division of the Rebel and became the third graded stakes winner for his sire Take Charge Indy, who now stands in Korea.
Horton bred Long Range Toddy from the Unbridled's Song mare Pleasant Song. He had purchased Pleasant Song as a yearling for $700,000 at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale. A winner three times on turf, Pleasant Song produced Long Range Toddy as her fourth foal, then sold at the 2016 Keeneland November sale to Machmer Hall for $22,000. The mare went to a woman in the show horse field who has not bred her since.
On the other hand, the 2-year-old out of Spinster Stakes star Take Charge Lady is an unnamed filly from the first crop by American Pharoah.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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