WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 4-year-old Take Charge Indy
, winner of the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park last year for
trainer Pat Byrne, will get plenty of support to add another major
prize to his resume when he makes his 2013 season debut in Saturday’s
$500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) over the same track and 1 1/8 miles
The 57th edition of the Donn has drawn an intriguing top-class field
of 10 with B.J. Wright’s 5-year-old Ultimate Eagle invading from
California, Bourbon Lane Stable and Wayne Lynn’s 4-year-old Bourbon
Courage flown in from New Orleans and Preston Stable’s 7-year-old Flat
Out, the 3-1 morning line favorite, making his first start since
finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov.
The Donn is one of five stakes races on Saturday's program at
Gulfstream. The 12-race program also includes the $300,000 Kitten's Joy
Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap featuring 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner
Animal Kingdom and the multiple Grade I winning Point of Entry.
Jockey John Velazquez gets aboard Take Charge Indy for the first
time in his first start since a game runner-up effort in the Clark
Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23 when beaten a length by
Shackleford. That good effort came following a third-place finish in the
Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in his first race since the Kentucky
A regally-bred son of A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 winner Take Charge
Lady, Take Charge Indy, 6-1 in the morning line, went into the Kentucky
Derby at 12-to-1 after the Florida Derby, but finished a disappointing
19th of 20 and was found to have a bone chip in his left front ankle
that later required surgery to remove.
“We’re really looking forward to see where he fits with the older
horses because we’re planning to run him all year,” said Byrne. “It
looks like there is plenty of speed in there. The California horse
(Ultimate Eagle) looks like he might need the lead. If somebody wants
the lead they can have it and we’ll sit behind. This looks like a good,
competitive field. I can’t even figure out who will be the favorite.”
Jockey Martin Pedroza flies in from California for the mount on
Ultimate Eagle for trainer Mike Pender. The Kentucky-bred has made all
of his 12 career starts at Southern California tracks, winning five
including the 2011 Hollywood Derby (G1) on turf and Strub Stakes (G2) on
dirt at Santa Anita early last year.
Following a near nine-month layoff, Ultimate Eagle finished a game
second on turf in the Citation Handicap (G2) at Hollywood Park in late
November and second by a head last out behind Coil in the San Pasqual
Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on Jan. 5. Ultimate Eagle worked five
furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Monday morning at Hollywood Park and arrived in
South Florida Tuesday on a Fed Ex cargo flight.
“He got here late last night in good shape,” said Pender who also
arrived on a commercial flight. “We just thought it was time to test the
waters out of town and see where he fits. He’ll be making his third
start back off the layoff and the timing is right. He’s trained great.”
Ultimate Eagle has set the pace in most of his races. “He’s a
high-spirited horse and likes to dictate in a race. As he’s gotten older
he’s learned to come back to the rider and settle. I’m not worried
about him getting in a speed duel. He’ll relax.”
Bourbon Courage also makes his first start since the Clark Handicap
in which he finished third, a head behind Take Charge Indy, and trainer
Kellyn Gorder has secured the services of leading Gulfstream jockey
Javier Castellano to ride him for the first time. The son of Lion Heart
arrived here last Wednesday and posted a sharp half-mile workout over
the track in 48 1/5 Sunday with Castellano getting a test drive.
Bourbon Courage has made only eight career starts but came around
quickly last summer and fall finishing second by a half-length in the
West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer Park in August, winning the
Super Derby (G2) by five lengths at Louisiana Downs in September and
second in the Indiana Derby (G2) at Hoosier Park in early October before
Asked about strategy in the Donn, Gorder said, “He doesn’t need a
speed duel or anything like that up front, but it would help him for
there to be a legitimate pace to close in to.”
Flat Out rallied for a non-threatening third-place finish in the
Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 behind Forted Larned
and Mucho Macho Man over a track that did not appear to help his
Jockey Joel Rosario gets a return call on the veteran son of Flatter
for trainer Bill Mott, who took over his training last summer after
Flat Out first came onto the national scene for trainer Scooter Dickey.
Dickey guided Flat Out’s career through a fifth-place finish in last
Prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Flat Out won the Jockey Club Gold Cup
(G1) at Belmont Park as he did the year before for Dickey. In the 2012
Classic at Churchill Downs he finished a close-up fifth as the favorite,
beaten three lengths for it all by Mott-trained upset winner
Flat Out will carry high-weight of 121 pounds breaking from post position 2, conceding from one to seven pounds to his rivals.
“The consensus of the handicappers seemed to be that there was a
disadvantage to the closers in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Mott. “We
obviously hope he’s ready to run a big race off the layoff. We don’t
have any specific plans for him after the Donn, except to keep him and
Ron the Greek apart if we can.”
Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable and partners’ 6-year-old Ron the Greek
finished fourth behind Flat Out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and came
back to win the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan.
19. Mott said the son of Full Mandate is on target to bid for a repeat
victory in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on Sat., Mar. 2.
While Flat Out, Take Charge Indy and Bourbon Courage are all coming
back from layoffs to make their 2013 season debuts in the Donn, Bruce
Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 4-year-old Csaba is the ‘now’ horse in the
field with a pair of stakes victories at the meet and will bid for a
fifth straight stakes score for trainer Phil Gleaves.
Regular jockey Luis Saez will be back aboard the son of Kitten’s Joy
after they teamed up to post consecutive victories in the ‘off the
turf’ Tropical Park Derby in October and Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) at
Calder in November. He then added the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes here in
December and then a game victory last out in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3)
turning back to a one-turn mile on Jan. 13.
“It’s a big test for us and most of the horses in the race” said
Gleaves. “It’s a quality Donn field. The good thing about Csaba is that
he’s proven to be so tractable. We don’t have to rely on anybody else in
the race to show speed or not. He makes his own race.”
Beaten just a neck when second behind Csaba in the Hal’s Hope was
William S. Farish’s Jr’s veteran 8-year-old Pool Play making his first
starts since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa
Anita. His regular jockey Miguel Mena will be in town to ride for
trainer Mark Casse.
Pool Play is the senior member of the field and has accumulated a
$1.26 million bankroll with a career record of 34-7-7-6, his biggest
victory coming in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in
June of 2011. He won the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) in early October
before the Breeders’ Cup Classic where his closing style may also have
been compromised by the apparently speed-favoring track that day.
Golden Goose Enterprises and partners’ 6-year-old Citrus Kid will be
a longshot in the field with jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. to ride for trainer
John Terranova. The son of Lemon Drop Kid has credentials, but will be
making only his second start since mid-September of 2011. Coming back
from the long layoff here on Dec. 19, Citrus Kid beat a solid allowance
field with heavy favorite El Padrino second going a mile.
Completing the field for the Donn are Twin Creek Racing Stables
LLC’s Graydar, Edgar Prado; Richard Pell’s 4-year-old Fast Falcon and
jockey Jose Lezcano named to ride for trainer Nick Zito, and Lisa
Parbhoo’s 7-year-old Ducduc with J.L. Alvarez in the saddle for trainer