Take Charge Indy, six-length winner of the Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) on Kentucky Oaks Day, is to make his next start in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 15 at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Pat Byrne.
WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford's Take Charge Indy's win in the Alysheba was his first since taking the Florida Derby (gr. I) in March 2012. In the Kentucky Derby, he finished 19th of 20 and came out with a bone chip in his left front ankle, which was removed.
"His win in the Alysheba was vindication for everyone involved, including the horse," Byrne said. "It was almost a year to the day when he got hurt running in the Derby and then he came back and ran like that.
"Numbers wise, his race in the Alysheba was off the charts. I always knew he could be that kind of a horse. You can look back at what I said about him over the winter. I said, 'At the end of the day, this is probably the most talented horse I've ever trained,' and I've had my hands on a couple of good ones."
Two of Byrne's most notable horses are 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and Awesome Again , who won the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in 1998.
"I think when it's all said and done, (Take Charge Indy) might be a better horse than Awesome Again," Byrne said.
Take Charge Indy breezed four furlongs in :51 at Churchill May 18 in his first work since the Alysheba. He is scheduled to work five furlongs May 25 or 26 with jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard. Byrne said Take Charge Indy will work shortly after the track opens for training at 6 a.m.
Should Take Charge Indy win the Stephen Foster, it would be the third victory in the race for Byrne, who won back-to-back runnings in 1997-98 with City by Night and Awesome Again.
One horse Take Charge Indy likely will face on June 15 is Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned , who breezed five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 at Churchill May 19. Trainer Ian Wilkes confirmed following the work that Fort Larned is being pointed toward the Stephen Foster.
Fort Larned finished fifth as the 1-2 favorite in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) in his most recent start April 13. He stumbled at the start and lost jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in his first start of 2013 in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II).