Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Take Charge Indy, out of action since the spring due to an ankle injury, makes his return in the $150,000 Fayette Stakes (gr. II), the closing day feature of the Keeneland fall meet Oct. 27.
Take Charge Indy will be making his first start against older horses in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack event, and is the only 3-year-old in the field of 11 entered Oct. 24. Also set to go is Newsdad, the Keeneland main track record holder for 1 1/4 miles. The Fayette will go as the ninth on Saturday's 10-race program with a 5:21 p.m. ET post time.
"This is a good place to get started back and I can do it without shipping all over the country," said Take Charge Indy's trainer, Patrick Byrne, who is based at Churchill Downs.
Take Charge Indy has not raced since being distanced in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and finishing 19th. A bone chip was discovered in his left front ankle after that performance, and he underwent surgery to have the chip removed. Byrne said the son of A.P. Indy out of the three-time grade I-winning Take Charge Lady returned to his barn Aug. 2.
"He's had three three-quarter-mile works (at Churchill) and has a lot of miles under him," Byrne said. "Calvin (Borel) worked him three works back and he went 1:13 and 1 and Calvin said he's ready."
In his most recent work Oct. 17 at Churchill, the dark bay or brown colt drilled five panels in a bullet :59 4/5, best of 32 at the distance on the morning.
Borel, who has ridden Take Charge Indy in all three of his starts this season, has the mount once again. They'll break from post 5 under 122 pounds, one less than the top-weighted Newsdad.
"He's ready to go," Byrne said. "Ideally, I'd like a mile and a sixteenth, but there are not too many places to go. The Clark Handicap (gr. I, Nov. 23 at Churchill) is the main objective, and I've got the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in the back of my mind."
Chuck and Maribeth Sandford own Take Charge Indy, who scored a front-running one-length tally in the March 31 Florida Derby at odds of 7-1. He defeated eventual Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags , who was third.
Take Charge Indy has earned $721,000 while winning two of his seven career races and finishing second twice.
James Karp's Newsdad established Keeneland's Polytrack record for 1 1/4 miles (2:00.61) winning a first-level allowance race Oct. 19, 2011. Newsdad's career highlight came in March of this year when he captured the Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) on turf against three opponents at Gulfstream Park.
Newsdad, a 4-year-old son of Arch, has been out of the money in four starts on grass since the Pan American. He was most recently last of five in the Bowling Green Stakes (gr. IIT) on the inner turf at Belmont Park Sept. 8. Newsdad drew post 4 and is to be ridden by Julien Leparoux. He is trained by Bill Mott.
Mott saddled Go Between to win the Fayette in 2007.
Guys Reward, trained by Dale Romans for owner Michael J. Bruder, has also done his best work on turf, winning both the Opening Verse Stakes and Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill earlier this year. In his most recent try on Polytrack, the 5-year-old son of Grand Reward ran third, well behind Wise Dan, in the nine-furlong Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) April 22. Guys Reward, in the money in 21 of 36 starts with seven victories and earnings of $553,655, drew the rail and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.
Wertheimer and Frere's Irish-bred Salto steps back into stakes action following a nine-length romp over allowance foes at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles over the main track Oct. 13. The 4-year-old by Pivotal, trained by Todd Pletcher, was second as the 6-5 favorite in the Cliffhanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Monmouth Park turf Sept. 1.
Middie also comes off an allowance score over Keeneland's all-weather surface Oct. 6 for trainer Philip Oliver and owners G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing. The 4-year-old Officer gelding won the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) on the Arlington Park Polytrack by 3 1/4 lengths in his start before that.
$150,000 Fayette Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:21 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Guys Reward (KY), C J Lanerie, 121, D L Romans
2. Photo Shoot (KY), S Spieth, 121, J Cheeks
3. Nikki's Sandcastle (KY), L R Goncalves, 121, D C Kassen
4. Newsdad (KY), J R Leparoux, 123, W I Mott
5. Take Charge Indy (KY), C H Borel, 122, P B Byrne
6. Salto (IRE), R Napravnik, 121, T A Pletcher
7. Golden Yank (KY), S Bridgmohan, 121, G A Thomas
8. Middie (KY), J K Court, 121, P J Oliver
9. Vertiformer (KY), J Graham, 121, W M Catalano
10. Eye of the Leopard (ON), J Rocco Jr., 121, D W Lukas
11. Twinspired (KY), V Lebron, 121, M J Maker