Charge It Showing Growth Following Kentucky Derby

Last week we wrote about the beginning of the second season for 3-year-olds, looking at the Ohio Derby (G3), which produced a good finish among three horses who made their previous starts in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1): Tawny Port, White Abarrio, and Classic Causeway. This week, we write about another horse who was off the board in the Derby, Charge It, who returned to action in the Dwyer Stakes (G3). The gray didn't meet anything as tough as the two other classic performers Tawny Port accounted for at Thistledown— in fact, only one of Charge It's Belmont Park opponents had a previous stakes win. Still, it was hard not to be impressed by Charge It's 23-length victory, or by his Beyer Speed Figure of 111, the highest achieved to date by a 3-year-old of 2022. Charge It finished only 17th in the Kentucky Derby, beaten 28 lengths. He did have a rough trip, and it should also be noted that he was very short on experience for such a demanding test. He didn't debut until Jan. 8, when he went down by a neck to the subsequently graded-stakes placed Volcanic in a Gulfstream Park maiden event. He passed that condition next time out, scoring by 8 1/2 lengths at the same venue a month later, and earned his way into the Derby with a second to White Abarrio in the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill 'n' Dale Farms at Xalapa (G1). Charge It is by Tapit, who at 22 is six years removed from the last of his three Leading Sire titles, but is enjoying a golden autumn, as his six stakes winners this year include not only Charge It but also the phenom that is Flightline. All told, he has been represented by 154 individual stakes winners, 96 of them graded, 29 grade 1, including Champion 2-Year-Old Colt and Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner Essential Quality; Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Untapable, successful in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1); Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Stardom Bound; Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Hansen; Champion Female Sprinter and Champion Older Dirt Female Unique Bella; and other classic winners Tonalist, Tapwrit, and Creator, all successful in the Belmont Stakes. Charge It's dam, the Indian Charlie mare I'll Take Charge, was a consistent but limited performer, her five lifetime starts earning her a win and a second in Belmont Park maiden special weight company, and thirds in allowance events at Saratoga, Keeneland, and Belmont. Despite her modest race record, Charge It's breeder, Whisper Hill Farm, who paid $2,200,000 for I'll Take Charge at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, probably still felt that I'll Take Charge was a major addition to its regally bred broodmare band. That's because she stems from what has been one of the strongest female families in North America over the last 20 years or so. I'll Take Charge is half sister to Champion 3-Year-Old Colt Will Take Charge; Florida Derby victor Take Charge Indy; this year's Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) winner As Time Goes By; Charming, the dam of Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi (herself dam of the 2022 Jerome Stakes winner Courvoisier, another by Tapit); and of three-time grade 1 scorer Omaha Beach. Interestingly, the trio of grade 1-winning half siblings to I'll Take Charge all have elements found in Tapit's pedigree: Will Take Charge is by Unbridled's Song, a son of Tapit's broodmare sire, Unbridled; Take Charge Indy is by Tapit's grandsire, A.P. Indy; and As Time Goes By is by American Pharoah, a grandson of Unbridled. I'll Take Charge's dam, the Dehere mare Take Charge Lady, won 11 of 22 starts, including the Ashland Stakes (G1); back-to-back renewals of the Overbrook Spinster Stakes (G1); the Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (G2); the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2); and three other graded events. Felicita, the dam of Take Charge Lady, was another outstanding broodmare, also producing the stakes-winning and graded-placed duo, Commendation and Eventail (herself subsequently dam of multiple graded-winning and grade 1-placed Straight Story, and of Japanese black-type winner Strong Souther). Felicita's half sister She's Got Class appears as the dam of Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G2) scorer Chamberlain Bridge. Some of the success of Take Charge Lady and Felicita as producers may be down to the fact that all eight of Take Charge Lady's grandparents, and six of the eight grandparents of Felicita, are from their own 'L' mitochondrial haplogroup, virtually guaranteeing that their offspring will have the "right" nuclear DNA for that haplotype. Felicita's dam, Grand Bonheur, was by Blushing Groom out of the stakes-placed Swaps mare Director, and was inbred 4x3 to Blushing Groom's fourth dam, Éclair, who stems from the same tail-female line as Grand Bonheur. Director's dam, Times Two, was second in the Selima Stakes, and third in the Spinster Stakes when both were equivalent to grade 1 standard events, and also third in the Kentucky Oaks. She's ancestress of more than 80 stakes winners, including a pair of Blue Grass Stakes (G1) scorers My Gallant and Dance With Fate, the Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes (G1) winner Capo Bastone, and Hong Kong Champion Exultant. The Tapit/Indian Charlie cross that produced Charge It now has three stakes winners from only 12 starters, notably also including Flightline. Charge It also has an interesting pedigree pattern, as Tapit's dam, Tap Your Heels, is a stakes-winning three-quarter sister to Champion Sprinter Rubiano, the sire of Felicita, the pair appearing 2x4 in the pedigree. This is another version of the pattern we've commented on several times recently, that of inbreeding to Fappiano through related strains. The two sons here, Unbridled and Rubiano, are found together in 43 stakes winners, including Charge It's relatives Will Take Charge and As Time Goes By and other grade 1 winners Polvorada, Halladay, Tweet, and Civil Union.