Privately purchased by Peter Deutsch and transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after her last race, Take Charge Paula provided immediate returns on the investment by scoring a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The dark bay daughter of Take Charge Indy tracked Heavenhasmynikki as that filly set the opening half-mile in :23.35 and :46.67. Take Charge Paula easily reeled her rival in and then sailed on past while drifting out entering the lane under jockey Paco Lopez. The sophomore lass drew off while five wide to finish seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:23.47.
Sent off the 5-2 favorite against seven foes, Take Charge Paula paid $7.40 for the win. Sultry rallied from near the rear to take second, a length in front of My Miss Lilly who in turn had that same margin to spare on Heavenhasmynikki.
The quartet shared 17 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4. The Forward Gal is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points contests and awarded 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers.
Completing the order of finish were Morning Destiny, Miss Mo Mentum, Foxtrot Sally and Violent Times.
Take Charge Paula is now 7-5-1-0 in her career with $308,520 in lifetime earnings, and revisited a track for the first time in her career in this spot. After breaking her maiden debut by 4 1/4 lengths at Monmouth Park last July, then trainer Kelly Breen sent her against stakes rivals in the White Clay Creek Stakes one month later at Delaware Park. She recorded a three-length victory on that occasion and next shipped to Churchill Downs for the Pocahontas Stakes (G2), where she suffered her first defeat when 10th after a troubled trip.
Breen wasn’t discouraged by Take Charge Paula’s effort under the Twin Spires and shipped her to Belmont Park for the Matron Stakes (G3) in October. The dark bay miss responded with a nice runner-up effort, then closed out her career with wins in the Smart Halo Stakes at Laurel Park and House Party Stakes at Gulfstream.
Bred in Kentucky by Extern Developments LTD., Take Charge Paula is out of the listed-placed Songandaprayer mare Perfect Paula. That broodmare has also produced dual stakes-placed Senna and is a full sister to Group 2 runner-up Jack Junior. This female family boasts Grade 2-winning millionaire Nightmare Affair.
FORWARD GAL QUOTES
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer Take Charge Paula, winner
“(Trainer) Kelly (Breen) had won three stakes with her and someone mentioned that she was for sale. Peter (Deutsch) is new in our barn and he’s been looking for fillies that might later be broodmare prospects. It was a perfect case scenario. He said, ‘Sure, let’s try to get it done,’ and we bought her and here we are now, a graded-stakes winner.
“I was a little nervous there for a minute when she was head and head; I didn’t know she was going to draw off. She leaned out a little bit and drifted a little bit but we’ve had some pretty good fillies do that in our past. At least she was still in front. (Jockey) Paco (Lopez) knows her and rode her well. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with her next.
“It’s been a pretty good day, so far.”
Paco Lopez, jockey Take Charge Paula, winner
“I had a great trip and a great position. I know this filly really well and (trainer) Kiaran (McLaughlin) told me she was a little nervous today, so just work with her. The track is a little fast, so I went outside and waited for the other horses. She’s a nice filly and ran great for Kiaran.”