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Skip Away Stakes Likely for Take Charge Indy

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

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 Bourbon Courage.

“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.

 

 

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