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Byrne Hopes to Take Charge in Donn

Take Charge Indy with Calvin Borel up wins the Florida Derby (G1) Gulfstream Park Hallandale Beach Florida. 03-31-2012. Arron Haggart/Eclipse Sportswire

Take Charge Indy is set for a return to action Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the 2012 Florida Derby (G1) winner will make a bid to repeat his heroics in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1).

Should he prevail in Gulfstream’s premier event for older horses, the Patrick Byrne-trained 4-year-old would join Quality Road (2009-2010), Harlan’s Holiday (2002-2003) and Cryptoclearance (1987-1988) as Florida Derby winners that came back to win the Donn the following year. More importantly for his connections, Take Charge Indy would position himself as a major force in the handicap division for the remainder of the 2013 racing season.

“Obviously, he’s got to step up off his 3-year-old form. One never knows how much they’ve developed until they start racing. The Donn’s a good start,” Byrne said. “We know he likes the track, obviously. It will be nice to see him get going. Hopefully, he’ll have a good trip and no excuses, so we get a true evaluation where he’s going to fit down the road.”

Take Charge Indy stepped up his game last season when he posted a front-running victory in the $1 million Florida Derby by a length, upsetting heavily favored Union Rags, who finished third. However, a chip was discovered in his left front ankle after a 19th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, resulting in a layoff of almost six months.

The son of A.P. Indy returned to the races at Keeneland in late October to finish third in the Fayette (G2), in which he set the pace before tiring. He came back less than a month later to finish second behind Shackleford in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in his 2012 finale.

“The race at Keeneland off a six-month layoff was fantastic. I mean, you can get them only so fit. We had to come back in three and a half weeks to run in the Clark,” Byrne said. “We were a little tight for space there regarding time. It wasn’t the most perfect situation, but we were second best that day and we beat a good horse in Bourbon Courage, who’s running Saturday.”

Take Charge Indy will race for the first time in the colors of WinStar Farm, LLC, which purchased 100 percent of the Kentucky-bred colt’s breeding rights and will campaign him in 2013 in partnership with Chuck and Maribeth Sandford.

“(The Clark) was a big effort for Take Charge Indy. I think the class he showed gave Elliott Walden and the WinStar people enough confidence to go ahead and keep him in training for another year,” Byrne said.

John Velazquez will ride Take Charge Indy for the first time, replacing the injured Calvin Borel.

“Take Charge Indy is tactical. Johnny’s riding style is that he tends to put one into a race. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be on the lead,” Byrne said. “John Terranova’s horse (Citrus Kid) has speed; the California horse (Ultimate Eagle) has speed; so there’ll be plenty of spice up front. Johnny will ride his race off the break. He’ll probably have him forwardly placed and we’ll just see how it unravels for us.”

In addition to Bourbon Courage, Citrus Kid and Ultimate Eagle, Take Charge Indy is expected to take on Flat Out, the 2012 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) champion, and Pool Play, the Grade 1 stakes-winning 8-year-old who finished second in the Hal’s Hope (G3) at Gulfstream last time out.

“We’re going to get our horse started and see where he fits in the handicap division. All we can do is worry about our guy,” Byrne said. “We’re eager to get him started. It will be nice to get him started under the WinStar banner and in the WinStar colors. We look forward to a nice year with him.”

 

 

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