Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) hopeful Take Charge Indy clocked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Churchill Downs Oct. 21. With jockey James Graham aboard and working over a “muddy” track after the morning renovation break, the colt posted fractions of :12 1/5, :24, :35 3/5 and :47 3/5.
Owners Chuck and Maribeth Sandford took a day away from their suburban Chicago home to watch their colt post the work.
“I want to see him run on dirt,” Sandford said of Take Charge Indy, who has made all three of his starts on synthetic Polytrack. “You want to make sure he can handle the surface he is going to run on. I had never seen him on an off track and for the kind of money you are putting up ($20,000 to pre-enter and $40,000 to pass the entry box), you’d better make sure he can handle the surface he is running on.”
The work was not without an anxious moment, however.
Take Charge Indy, wearing blinkers as he has done since running second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) Sept. 10, broke off at the half-mile pole and just after the wire, after which another horse dropped his rider, wheeled toward Take Charge Indy, but did not make contact.
“We dodged a bullet there,” trainer Pat Byrne said in a release. “My heart is still pounding. He probably would have gone even faster without that loose horse. It was scary.”
Graham, who was been Take Charge Indy’s regular work rider as well as being aboard for all three starts, was ecstatic after the work.
“Pat wanted a good work and he got a good work,” Graham said in a statement. “This is the best he has worked since his maiden win (on July 30) and he did it the right way. I raised the stick at the head of the lane and he went from third gear right into overdrive.”
Graham had no reservations about Take Charge Indy handling the dirt.
“No qualms at all,” Graham said. “He’s bred for it and runs just like his daddy.”
Graham was referring to champion A.P. Indy, winner of the 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic (both gr. I).
For good measure, Take Charge Indy’s dam is multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady, who compiled a record of 22-11-7-0, for earnings of $2,480,377. Take Charge Lady won the Dogwood (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Golden Rod (gr. II), and Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at the Louisville track.
Byrne, who scored a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile double in 1997 at Hollywood Park with Favorite Trick and the filly Countess Diana and took the Classic at Churchill a year later with Awesome Again , was equally thrilled with the work.
“I loved it. How could you not like it?” Byrne said. “We will probably do something easy Sunday or Monday (of Breeders’ Cup week) like three-eighths or a half. He’s ready to go.”