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Jan 30, 2015

Up the Backstretch: It's championship weekend in horse racing

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - It's championship weekend in thoroughbred horse racing.

Not really. But, two of the winning horses in last November's Breeders' Cup will be making their 2015 debuts over the weekend approximately 1500 miles apart.

First up on Saturday will be Take Charge Brandi, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The 3-year-old filly, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, will be at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas for the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes versus six rivals going a mile.

Lukas has the champion filly pointed toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 1. The sister race to the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/8 miles and was won last year by eventual Eclipse Award winner Untapable.

Take Charge Brandi, owned by Willis Horton, hasn't been away from the races very long. She had two starts following the Breeders' Cup, both victories two time zones apart.

Lukas had her win the Delta Downs Princess in Louisiana just three weeks after taking the Juvenile Fillies as a 61-1 longshot. Then three weeks later she captured the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos in Los Angeles.

"We tried to get too cute with her during the summer and finally I woke up and said I'll just leave her alone. We made that decision and it's worked," Lukas noted after the Starlet.

Sunday marks the return of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red to the track. Trained by Keith Desormeaux, the colt has the trainer's Hall of Fame brother Kent in the saddle for the San Vicente at Santa Anita. The seven- furlong stakes is a prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 4.

Texas Red, who is partly owned by his trainer, won the Juvenile as a 13-1 longshot while posting a 6 1/2-length victory over 9-5 race favorite Carpe Diem.

However, unlike Take Charge Brandi, Texas Red failed to secure the Eclipse Award as 2014 champion 2-year-old male. That honor went to American Pharoah who had to be withdrawn from the Breeders' Cup with an injury.

The weekend brings exciting horse racing to the fore with tracks scheduling their programs so as not to interfere with viewing the Super Bowl.

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