Saturday, May 04, 2002

Oaks: Farda Amiga full of kick at the finish

Passes favorite Take Charge Lady

By Gary Estwick,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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        LOUISVILLE — Take Charge Lady competed Friday afternoon just as her name suggested she took charge. The 3-year-old filly, undefeated in three previous races this season, led for most of the 128th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

        Nearing the stretch, the 8-5 favorite seemed to be on her way to the winner's circle, along with Union, Ky., jockey Tony D'Amico, trainer Ken McPeek and Indian Hill owners Jerry and Feye Bach of Select Stables.

        But she had no answer for a late-charging Farda Amiga. Take Charge Lady was chased down from behind and passed. Farda Amiga went on to win the $562,100 race for 3-year-old fillies by a length.

        Farda Amiga, a 20-1 shot, won $348,502. The filly ran the 1-mile course in 1:50.41.

        Unable to answer Farda Amiga's late charge, Take Charge Lady had to settle for second ($112,420).

        “We were so close,” Jerry Bach said after the race. “It hurts so bad.”

        D'Amico also was disappointed.

        “We just got beat today,” D'Amico said. “The rest of the horses ran her down. But I can't take anything away from her. She ran a great race.”

        Habibti closed to show. You, which challenged Take Charge Lady early, finished fourth.

        D'Amico said Take Charge Lady seemed antsy before the race, probably because of the crowd of more than 100,000.

        Not so for Farda Amiga, said her jockey, Chris McCarron.

        “Turning for home I felt a lot of power, a good turn of speed,” McCarron said. “Turning for home I felt confident we'd pick up a nice check.”

        As his horse inched closer and closer to Take Charge Lady, he thought about more than a top-five finish.

        “By the eighth pole I thought we had a good chance of overhauling (Take Charge Lady),” he said.

        That's just what happened. Take Charge Lady lost by 1length.

        “Obviously, I'm bummed out,” Bach said. “But the bottom line is you have to give credit where credit is due. I've been around horse racing enough to know you're not going to win them all. It doesn't matter if you're the favorite or not.”

        Bach said Take Charge Lady will slow down for the next three to four weeks, working out once a week, before she races again.

        Farda Amiga's last race was a fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks. On Friday, she survived a foul claim by Habibti's rider, Victor Espinoza.

        The stewards ruled Farda Amiga didn't interfere with Habibti in the upper stretch.

        “There wasn't any contact,” McCarron said. “The filly (Farda Amiga) did drift in slightly after we straightened out. The stewards determined that my drifting in was of no consequence.”


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