Battle of the Sexes: American Pharoah vs. Take Charge Brandi

March 10, 2015 06:23am


Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs started it all, or maybe it was American racing legends like Regret and Gallorette taking on the boys, or more likely yet, the battle of the sexes may have been happening since the dawn of time. Whenever the phenomenon of females taking on males began, it has never failed to add another level of intrigue to the proceedings. Ready or not, we have another battle of the sexes coming this Saturday in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes. When the connections of Take Charge Brandi did not enter their champion filly in this past Saturday’s Honeybee Stakes, we all knew what that meant. Filly vs. Colt. Champion vs. Champion. American Pharoah vs. Take Charge Brandi. Oaklawn Park’s Rebel should have something for everyone.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has never been one to shy away from running a good filly against the boys. He’s done so with success in the past with such stars as Lady’s Secret, Serena’s Song, Althea, Surfside, and of course, Winning Colors in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. In Take Charge Brandi’s colorful owner, Willis D. Horton, he also has an owner with no fear of letting his horses take a shot at something big. And so it will be for the 2yo Filly Champion of 2014.

“I really want to find out how good she is,” her Arkansas native owner said. “If she can beat the boys, I think her better chance of doing that is early than later in the year, because the boys will start really gaining. I’m just wanting to take a chance on beating the boys. I’m just trying to build her resume up.”

Her trainer maintains that the winner of 5-of-9 career starts, with earning just a shade under $1.7 million, is still intended for the Kentucky Oaks rather than Kentucky Derby 2015. Whether she ends up running on the first Friday in May, or one day later, remains to be seen, but now is the time that her connections have chosen as the initial opportunity to take on the boys. Clearly, Take Charge Brandi’s winning streak has given them plenty to feel good about.

The daughter of Giant’s Causeway has won four consecutive stakes races: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Delta Princess in November, the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes in December, and most recently the Martha Washington over this same racetrack on January 31. That last race may have been tougher than expected, but her vanquished, Sarah Sis came back to win the aforementioned Honeybee in good style on Saturday. Winning streak or not, make no mistake, Take Charge Brandi will not be the favorite in her first start against the boys. That honor will fall on American Pharoah.

Not seen in competition for nearly six months, the 2yo Male Champion of 2014 has been the talk of the mornings now for several weeks. Despite his racing inactivity, the son of Pioneerof The Nile has looked so good in his three-year-old workouts that it’s like he hasn’t missed any time at all.

Keep in mind, that when he did last race, the Bob Baffert trained, and Zayat Stables owned colt was a striking winner of back-to-back Grade 1 races. He was unable to make the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to a physical setback, but in both the Del Mar Futurity, and the FrontRunner Stakes, American Pharoah took the race right to his opposition early and often. He streaked down the stretch in both an easy winner, with good horses like Calculator and Texas Red in his wake. American Pharoah will be the favorite, and the horse to beat in this intriguing edition of the Rebel.

Yes, it’s a battle of the sexes, and a clash of the champions, but thankfully, this will not be a two-horse affair. In fact, a pair of horses who ran sneaky good races in the local Southwest Stakes, are back to try to improve on their respective 2nd and 4th place finishes in the most recent Kentucky Derby prep at Oaklawn Park. The Truth Or Else, from the Ken McPeek barn, and Bold Conquest, trained by Steve Asmussen, both could improve after running well in their initial three-year-old efforts, and each has the benefit of a race over the track. They also both would not mind a bit if the two headliners of the field go hard at each other in the early stages, setting up their late runs. But enough about them, the Rebel is first and foremost about Take Charge Brandi and American Pharoah.


It may not be Zenyatta-Blame, or Rags to Riches-Curlin, but this match-up of Take Charge Brandi and American Pharoah brings together a male champion against a female champion, and that in itself is a very rare occurrence in American racing. Enjoy it racefans! 


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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