A day after Take Charge Indy captured the Florida Derby (gr. I), trainer Patrick Byrne said he plans to ship the colt to Churchill Downs early for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“We’ll ship to Kentucky in 10 days,” Byrne said April 1. “We’re going to Churchill Downs and back off for a couple of weeks and freshen him up. We’ll give him a couple of half mile runs.”
With three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel at the helm, Take Charge Indy recorded his first victory over winners in the $1 million Florida Derby. The son of A.P. Indy led the field at every call en route to a one-length triumph at odds of 7-1.
Borel has the return mount aboard Take Charge Indy in the Run for the Roses.
“Calvin rides Churchill so well. He’s a smart, heads-up rider. He’s a big-money rider, everyone knows that,” Byrne said. “He suits the colt well.”
Byrne said that Take Charge Indy, who has been based at Palm Meadows Trainer Center, was doing fine after the biggest effort of the colt's career.
Take Charge Indy captured his debut last July over Arlington Park’s Polytrack surface before finishing second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III), fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, and fifth in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. That was his first start on dirt.
“He’s always shown a lot of talent. He has a tremendous amount of raw talent," Byrne said. "He’s been on the immature side, and I’ve always said that the more time he gets, the bigger and stronger he’ll be. It’s been a normal progression and development.”
Byrne said there was no need to do much analyzing of Take Charge Indy's performance at Gulfstream Park March 31.
“It was pretty straightforward. He broke sharp and Calvin did a super job,” he said.
In defeating a field that included Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags , the 2-5 choice in the Florida Derby, Take Charge Indy ran the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.79 while completing the final furlong in :12.83. He broke alertly, set sensible fractions, and had the stamina to maintain his advantage over 31-1 challenger Reveron.
“He’s an awful fast horse. You know, the racetrack was in great shape and there was no secret how the racetrack was playing. My horse has tactical speed and he’s fast,” Byrne said. “I wouldn’t call it a souped-up track. Horses were running on or close to the lead. My horse can be close or taken back. It worked out fine.”
Owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, Take Charge Indy, who is out of Take Charge Lady, has now won two of six career starts while earning $721,000.
Meanwhile, trainer Michael Matz said he had not firmed up his Kentucky Derby plans for Union Rags, who finished a neck behind Reveron in third. It was just the Dixie Union colt's second loss in six lifetime starts.
“We’re going to be here (at Palm Meadows) for at least two weeks, then after that we’re going to make the decision whether we go up to Keeneland, Churchill, or stay here,” Matz said. "Those are three options and a lot depends on how the weather is. We’ll play it by ear.”
Union Rags was rated in fourth behind the early pace while pinned toward the inside due to the presence to his outside of 5-2 second choice El Padrino and jockey Javier Castellano. When jockey Julien Leparoux found running room in the stretch, Union Rags rallied for third but was no threat to catch Take Charge Indy.
“I think he ran his race, I just think they went slow the first part and there wasn’t much we could do about it," Matz said. "The good part is I hope that Julien learned about the horse a little bit more. When they did go that slow, I think he would have tried to press the pace, but he was stuck in that trap and couldn’t get out of there. He knows he’s on a horse that people are going to try to get him beat, and that’s what happened. The good thing about it is Julien will put himself in a better position where he won’t let that happen again.”
Leparoux rode Union Rags to a four-length win in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (gr. II) the first time he was aboard the colt.
Matz reported that Union Rags came out of the Florida Derby in good order and was acting frisky when turned out in a paddock at Palm Meadows early Sunday morning.
“Obviously, I think he only ran the last quarter of a mile, so hopefully it wasn’t a tough race on him. Maybe the good part of it is that he didn’t run a hard race going into the Derby,” said Matz, who saddled Barbaro for victories in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby in 2006. “But it was just disappointing because I thought he was the best horse going in.”
Elsewhere, trainer Augustin Bezara said runner-up Reveron would be pointed toward the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that El Padrino came out of his fourth-place finish “really well.”