Trainer Pat Byrne will saddle Alysheba (Grade II) winner Take Charge Indy for the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) and he said
he has no excuses going into Saturday’s race.
“He’s been doing fantastic since the
Alysheba,” Byrne said. “He’s been training great and put on some weight.
I have no concerns and no excuses going in. If we get beat, we get beat
by a really, really good horse.”
In preparation for the Stephen
Foster, Take Charge Indy worked a “bullet” half-mile at Churchill Downs
on June 8 in :47 under regular exercise rider Johnny Byrne (no relation), who also was aboard the 4-year-old colt
when he breezed a “bullet” three furlongs in :35.60 in advance of the Alysheba.
“He came out of the Alysheba better
than he went in, which is pretty unbelievable,” Johnny Byrne said. “He
went in like a million bucks, but came out like two million.”
The Stephen Foster will be the fourth race of the year for WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Take Charge Indy, who was under consideration for retirement following his runner-up effort to Shackleford
in last year’s Clark Handicap (GI).
“Elliott Walden and WinStar
deserve the credit because they could have taken him to the breeding
shed on December 1,” Pat Byrne said. “After some careful consideration
and input from Mr. Sandford, they decided to let
the horse stay in training as long as he was running well. Hats off to
WinStar for giving us the opportunity to let this horse be all he can
Again this week, Pat Byrne commented on how highly he thinks of Take Charge Indy.
“Only time will tell, but all
indicators are that he’s moving in the right directions and he very well
could be the best I’ve ever trained,” Pat Byrne said.
Two of the most notable horses trained by Byrne are 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and Awesome Again, who won the 1998 Stephen Foster prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
Should Take Charge Indy win the
Stephen Foster, it would be a record third win in the race for Pat
Byrne, who won back-to-back runnings in 1997-98 with City by Night and Awesome Again.
The Stephen Foster Handicap, one of
five graded stakes races on the Downs After Dark Presented by Stella
Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program, is scheduled to go as Race 8
of 11 at 9:39 p.m. (all times Eastern).