All is well with grade I winner Take Charge Indy , who last ran a disappointing sixth in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, trainer Pat Byrne reported July 17.
The 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy and multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady returned to the worktab at Churchill Downs on July 12 with an easy half mile in :50 4/5, and will post another drill July 19 at the Louisville oval. Following that move, Byrne said a choice will be made between two potential targets—the Aug. 3 Whitney Invitational (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course or the July 28 Monmouth Cup (gr. II) on Haskell Day at Monmouth Park.
Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm owns the dark bay or brown colt in partnership with Chuck and Maribeth Sandford. Before finishing last in the Stephen Foster, Take Charge Indy rolled to a six-length victory in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) while powering 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.41—two-fifths off the track record. He also won the 2012 Florida Derby (gr. I), but was sidelined for the second part of his 3-year-old season due to an ankle chip.
"He came out the Stephen Foster in decent shape; I don't really know what happened," Byrne said. "We chased (winner) Fort Larned around there. It just wasn't his night. He's doing fantastic and had an easy half last week; we'll come back with five-eighths Friday (July 19) and we'll make a decision over the weekend."
In the $750,000 Whitney at 1 1/8 miles, Take Charge Indy would again face Fort Larned, who won the race in 2012 before taking the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Other contenders probable or possible for the Saratoga classic include Mucho Macho Man, Flat Out , Ron the Greek, and Successful Dan.
Potential starters for the $200,000 Monmouth Cup at 1 1/16 miles include San Pablo, Mark Valeski, Liaison , and Paynter . Of the latter two trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, one will likely stay in California to run in the July 27 San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.
"You would think the Monmouth Cup would be an easier spot, but it is allowance conditions and we'd have to carry top weight (123) since we won a grade II this year," Byrne said. "The Whitney, we all know who is going in there, it's got some gorillas and sets up to be a really incredible race.
"We'll talk to Elliott (Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm) over the weekend and see what they want to do. At this point, our options are open and we're prepared to go either way. There's a plane leaving Tuesday with horses so we'll either go to Monmouth or go to Saratoga."
Take Charge Indy currently has a 3-4-2 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $1,099,496. He will stand at WinStar upon his retirement.