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The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.

Breeding the best to the best works often enough that prudent breeders cannot afford to ignore this best and most thoroughly tried method of mating. And that is simply what we find in the pedigree of Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, whose sire is the great racehorse and sire A.P. Indy and whose dam is the multiple G1 winner Take Charge Lady.

The dark brown Florida Derby winner is the 144th stakes winner by his sire, and with 1,139 foals from 17 crops, that is a strike rate of 13%, with several more stakes winners doubtless in the wings awaiting their turn on stage as they mature and progress toward their best form.

For one of the truisms of the A.P. Indy stock is that they get better with age and they get better with distance. Heck, they just get better.

And from his first crop to his present group of 3-year-olds, one of the hallmarks of the A.P. Indy strain of Seattle Slew – Bold Ruler – Nasrullah is that they tend to begin to reach a peachy ripeness, a lustrous glow of promise and ability, about the time of the classics.

It is rare for a classic or a Kentucky Derby to be run without a son of A.P. Indy or two in the lineup. Pulpit was there to represent the first crop, and thereafter some good colts, such as Stephen Got Even, Old Trieste, Aptitude, and AP Valentine, have contested the classics.

A.P. Indy’s champion son Bernardini won the Preakness as part of his championship season, and the stallion’s daughter Rags to Riches won the Belmont Stakes over subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year Curlin.

But, peculiar as it is for one of our most classic sires, A.P. Indy has never had the Kentucky Derby winner. It is, under the best of circumstances, a very difficult race to win. Yet another furlong in :12 would have put Take Charge Indy at 10 furlongs in less than 2:01, having raced the nine furlongs of the Florida Derby in 1:48.79. Yes, the race last Saturday wasn’t the Kentucky Derby, and the course wasn’t Churchill Downs, but the colt ran a professional, even-paced stayer’s race without being picked up in the stretch. So he’s in with a plausible chance to take home the roses on the first Saturday in May.

Will Take Charge Indy win the Kentucky Derby? If not, it won’t be because there isn’t enough class in his dam.

A top-class racer, Take Charge Lady was such a standout at Keeneland racecourse that she just might have won the Derby if it had been run in Lexington, rather than Louisville. The filly did not race for the Derby but for the Oaks, where she was upset by the Broad Brush filly Farda Amiga.

Take Charge Lady, a bay daughter of champion juvenile Dehere, won half of her 22 starts, earned $2,480,377, and took the G1 laurels for victories in the 2002 Ashland and the 2002 and 2003 Spinster. She was also second four times in G1 stakes at other racetracks.

Sold as a broodmare carrying her first foal in 2004, Take Charge Lady brought $4.2 million, and the following spring produced Charming (by Seeking the Gold), who was a winner from three starts. Breeder Eaton Sales recouped much of the mare’s purchase price with the sale of Charming for $3.2 million as a yearling in 2006 and then sold the mare’s third foal, a filly by Storm Cat later named Elarose, for $800,000 in 2008.

In contrast to Take Charge Lady’s fillies, her first two colts did not generate much enthusiasm at the sales. The mare’s second foal, the Fusaichi Pegasus colt Love Pegasus, brought only $85,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2007, and Take Charge Indy was bought back for $80,000 at the Keeneland auction in 2010.

Bred by Eaton Sales like the mare’s preceding foals, Take Charge Indy changed hands privately and races for Chuck and Maribeth Sandford. As the fourth foal of his dam, the Florida Derby winner puts her strike for stakes winners to foals at 25%, a nearly unattainable ratio for a stallion.

Take Charge Lady had a chestnut colt by Unbridled’s Song who sold for $425,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September sale, partly on the strength of Take Charge Indy’s second in the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. He is named Will Take Charge.

The mare did not have a foal in 2011, but she already has produced a filly by Indian Charlie this year.

The dam of Take Charge Lady, the unraced Rubiano mare Felicita, produced three stakes winners from 10 foals, eight to race, including Commendation (Capote) and Eventail (Lear Fan), who is the dam of G2 winner Straight Story (Giant’s Causeway).

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