Brandi's late push continues to flatter Peace and War

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

December 10th, 2014

One of the few contentious races on this year's Eclipse Award ballot is for the two-year-old filly championship, due in no small part to Take Charge Brandi's massive upset victory in last month's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Having finished second in the Schuylerville, fifth in the Adirondack, fifth in the Pocahontas, and eighth in the Alcibiades prior to the Breeders' Cup, Take Charge Brandi's 61-1 score appeared a bit fluky, especially given how speed favoring the Santa Anita strip was playing early on that card.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has not been content to let the filly rest on her laurels and has made an extra push for her to win the division title. She attracted more voters into her camp after taking the Delta Downs Princess on November 22, and would probably secure a safe majority were she to take the Starlet at Los Alamitos on Saturday.

Post-Breeders' Cup pushes for division titles in the juvenile categories have a mixed history of success. On the male side, Declan's Moon (2004), Lookin at Lucky (2010), and Shared Belief (2013) were all aided by Hollywood Futurity wins at the now-defunct Hollywood Park, but Brocco's push in 1993 was a notable backfire after he lost the same race.

On the filly side few Breeders' Cup winners have needed to enhance their resume, although Outstandingly (1984) and Open Mind (1988) were notable exceptions. However, Twilight Ridge lost the division title to stablemate Family Style after coming up short in the 1985 Hollywood Starlet.

In the immediate aftermath of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, many were ready to coronate Lady Eli as juvenile filly champion following her standout victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. That would be an unprecedented result as no two-year-old of either sex has ever been named champion having won only grass stakes.

No offense to Lady Eli and her connections, but the traditionalist in me has felt a bit of relief as Take Charge Brandi has enhanced her credentials for a title that has properly recognized excellence on the main track throughout its history. Lady Eli still figures to get significant support, but not nearly as much as expected at this time a month ago.

What if Take Charge Brandi's late push had completely faltered? I would still have been against backing Lady Eli, but she likely would win without my support.

What other performer with a significant win on the main track would have been a logical alternative to Lady Eli in that scenario? I thought about this in the days between the Breeders' Cup and Delta Downs Princess and came up with Peace and War, the English import who prevailed in the Alcibiades in her U.S. debut but missed the Breeders' Cup due to a minor setback.

When you come right down to it, no filly was flattered more by the results of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies than Peace and War. Not only did she handily beat Take Charge Brandi, but she also held off eventual Juvenile Fillies runner-up Top Decile by a half-length in the Keeneland fixture.

It's a (miniscule) minority view, but Peace and War still offers some appeal in the championship race.

Photo: Take Charge Brandi (Delta Downs/Coady Photography)