WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 4-year-old Take Charge Indy, winner of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream
Park last year for trainer Pat Byrne, breezed six furlongs in 1:14
Sunday morning at Palm Meadows in preparation for a likely start in the
$100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) on Florida Derby Day Saturday, March 30.
“We’re leaning strongly toward the Skip Away,” said Byrne of the 1
3/16 miles test won last year by Fort Larned. “We’ve also nominated to
the New Orleans Handicap (G2) that same day and Elliott (Walden, WinStar
Farm President/CEO) wants to keep all of our options open for now. But
it’s a long season and it would be a lot easier to ship 45 minutes to
Gulfstream rather than go to New Orleans to run against Graydar and
“Another reason we’re leaning to the Skip Away is that we can get
Rosie (Napravnik) to ride him. We’ve already been told that Johnny
(Velazquez) will be riding Cigar Street (owned by Jake Ballis and
Rashard Lewis) in the Skip Away for Bill Mott,” said Byrne.
Napravnik, who leads all North American jockeys in wins through
Saturday with 80, will be on hand from Fair Grounds that day to ride
Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s
Shanghai Bobby in the Florida Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher.
A regally-bred son of A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 winner Take Charge
Lady, Take Charge Indy finished third last out in the $500,000 Donn
Handicap (G1) here on Feb. 9 behind wire-to-wire winner Graydar and
Bourbon Courage. The Donn marked Take Charge Indy’s first start since a
top effort when second by a length behind Shackleford in the Clark
Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23.
After finishing 19th in last year's Kentucky Derby (G1), Take Charge
Indy was found to have a bone chip in his left front ankle and
underwent surgery to have it removed. Sidelined for nearly six months,
he returned with a third-place effort in the Fayette Stakes (G2) at
Keeneland in late October prior to the Clark.
Take Charge Indy’s 3-year-old half-brother Will Take Charge, by
Unbridled’s Song, posted a 28-to-1 upset winning Saturday’s $600,000
Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Byrne had another potential stable star on the work tab Sunday
morning at Palm Meadows with Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 3-year-old
Positively, who worked a half mile in 48 4/5 as he continues preparing
for his season debut and first start since finishing seventh in the
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. The son
of Distorted Humor finished second to Uncaptured in the Iroquois Stakes
(G3) at Churchill in his previous start.
“I think he is going to be a nice horse this year,” said Byrne.
“He’s a half-brother to Malibu Moon (highly-successful sire of Florida
Derby candidate Orb), “He can’t be ready for a race at Gulfstream. We
hope to bring him back in either the Derby Trial (G3) at Churchill or
the Illinois Derby (G3).” The $175,000 Derby Trial will be run on
Saturday, April 27 while the $750,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne goes a
week before on Saturday April 20.