Take Control, the first foal out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, triumphed in his career debut Dec. 30 at Santa Anita Park. The 2-year-old son of A.P. Indy defeated favored Ivory Fudge by 1 1/2 lengths while covering a mile in 1:37.64 over the Southern California track’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface (VIDEO).
Sent off as the third betting choice in the maiden special weight event’s field of seven juvenile runners, Take Control raced in last early under jockey Martin Garcia after breaking from the No. 1 post. Turning into the stretch, the chestnut colt moved out from the rail, where he had been running in behind horses, made a right-hand turn that had him momentarily facing the grandstand, and then exploded away under left-handed urging to run down the leader, favored Ivory Fudge, pulling away as the wire approached.
Ivory Fudge, the 2-1 choice ridden by Joe Talamo, held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Line of David and Garrett Gomez. Take Control paid $7.60 for the win and earned $27,000.
Bred in Kentucky by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, Take Control was a $7.7-million buy-back when he was offered by John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. The amount established a world Thoroughbred auction record.
Earlier this year, at the Keeneland April juvenile auction, Take Control was purchased from Eddie Woods, agent, for $1.9 million by Kaleem Shah, whose colors were carried to victory. The colt was the most expensive 2-year-old in training sold this year at public auction in North America.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who signed the sale ticket for Take Control, conditions the colt, who formerly was named Vallenzeri.
“I didn’t think he could win first time out,” said Baffert, “but he really impressed me. He was green, but he settled well and he overcame a lot of trouble. That was a good one to get; now we’ve got our 2-year-old start out of the way. He’ll run all day, and we’ll let him tell us what’s next."
Take Control is a rare product of two Horses of the Year. Azeri, who has delivered two foals since Take Control and is in foal to Distorted Humor for 2010, won three Eclipse Awards consecutively as the nation's champion older female (2002-04) in addition to winning Horse of the Year. She won 17 of 24 races and earned $4,079,820. Azeri's other foals are by Giant's Causeway (born in 2008) and Ghostzapper (2009).