A Closer Look at 2023 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Hopeful Charge It

Charge It Breeders’ Cup Classic Suburban Stakes Belmont Park Whitney Stakes horse racing Todd Pletcher Whisper Hill Farm pedigree John Velazquez
Charge It, with John Velazquez riding, won the Suburban Stakes by 4 ¾ lengths July 8 at Belmont Park. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

The fields for the 14 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships really begin to come into focus in summer and fall and this regular feature will offer a snapshot profile of one of the previous weekend’s standout stars.

Charge It took a major step toward the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic with a 4 ¾-length runaway win in the $350,000 Suburban Stakes July 8 at Belmont Park. Although the Suburban was not a “Win and You’re in” qualifying race for the Classic, it should serve as a nice springboard for Charge It. The 4-year-old Tapit colt bounced back from an unplaced finish in the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap June 10 and showed he could win at the 1 ¼-mile classic distance.

charge it

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Whisper Hill Farm

Jockey: John Velazquez

Race Record: 10 starts - 4 wins - 3 seconds - 0 thirds

Earnings: $717,600

Marquee Win in 2023: Suburban Stakes

Pedigree: Tapit – I’ll Take Charge, by Indian Charlie

Charge It showed significant promise as a 3-year-old in 2022 when finishing second in the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa and winning the Dwyer Stakes by 23 lengths. Unfortunately, a series of minor maladies – starting in the Dwyer with him grabbing a quarter, an injury to the back of a hoof from being stepped on from behind – kept the Todd Pletcher trainee sidelined for seven months.

Charge It’s return as a 4-year-old has been a bit uneven to date. He won an allowance-optional claiming race in his Feb. 5 season debut at Gulfstream and then ran second as the 3-5 favorite to Endorsed in the Grade 2 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes in March.

Following back-to-back unplaced finishes in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and Grade 1 Met Mile, Charge It reminded fans why they were so intrigued by his potential with a front-running 4 3/4-length win last weekend in the Suburban.

“He ran big. We never felt like he had a problem with distance by watching him train in the morning, but he has to do it in the afternoon,” said Todd Quast, general manager of owner-breeder Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. “He can be just a little bit quirky. The talent and raw ability are both there, and he can do it in the afternoons. When he puts it all together, it’s an amazing performance.”

When Charge It is good, he is very good. He earned a 114 Equibase Speed Figure and 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his Dwyer win last summer and a 108 Equibase figure and 106 Beyer for his Suburban win. However, consistency in graded stakes races has not been a strength to date for Charge It.

There are, however, a few reasons for significant optimism moving forward, both about Charge It’s future in general and his chances in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

  • Charge It seems to be at his best when setting or pressing the pace and then making a move to take control early in the race. He then is very good at simply running the opposition off its feet.
  • Along that line of thinking, longer races allow Charge It to utilize that prominent early running style more effectively with a more modest pace and less competition in the early stages. Notice in the 1 ¼-mile Suburban, Charge It was in front by a half-length after an opening half-mile in an easy :48.12 and extended the advantage to 3 ½ lengths through a mile in 1:36.15 after settling into a rhythm.
  • Seven of the last 10 Classic winners profiled as racehorses who prefer to press or set the pace and the other three were stalkers, so recent history has shown that horses like Charge It with tactical speed are at an advantage in the Classic.
  • Charge It’s pedigree is simply outstanding. He’s by leading sire Tapit out of the winning Indian Charlie mare I’ll Take Charge, a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2013 champion older male Will Take Charge, 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, and 2022 Grade 1 winner As Time Goes By. I’ll Take Charge also is a half-sister to Charming, the dam of 2014 champion 2-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi and 2019 Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach.

While there certainly is plenty to like when evaluating Charge It as a potential Breeders’ Cup Classic candidate, it’s also fair to remain skeptical. He did not defeat any superstars in the Suburban as the 0.65-1 favorite in a five-horse field, and he very likely will not get that type of easy front-running trip against better competition. We should learn more in Charge It’s next start, which is expected to come in the $1 million Whitney Stakes Aug. 5 at Saratoga Race Course.

A win in that 1 1/8-mile, Grade 1 race would cement Charge It’s credentials as a major contender for the $6 million Classic.

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