Under a smart ride from Calvin Borel, Take Charge Indy wired Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1) field at Gulfstream Park, upsetting odds-on favorite Union Rags.
Borel immediately put Take Charge Indy on the lead at the break. The son of A.P. Indy appeared to settle nicely for Borel around the first turn while Union Rags raced in amongst horses just inside of El Padrino.
Take Charge Indy clicked off early fractions of 23.60 and 47.71, receiving only token pressure down the backstretch.
When the real running began on the far turn, Borel had plenty in reserve on the lead even though it appeared for a moment he might be retreating. A game Reveron, winner of the Gulfstream Park Derby earlier in the meet, gave chase to Take Charge Indy’s outside while Julien Leparoux, aboard Union Rags, directed his mount to the inside with plenty of ground to make up on the leaders at the head of the lane.
Borel stayed busy on Take Charge Indy and he turned back the challenge of Reveron through the lane, hitting the wire with a length to spare. Union Rags closed fast late once he was in the clear to finish third and galloped out strongly.
Take Charge Indy covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.70. He is owned by Charles and Maribeth Sandford and is conditioned by Pat Byrne. Take Charge Indy, out of the talented racemare Take Charge Lady, by Dehere, was scratched out of the Tampa Bay Derby to run in Saturday’s race.
“When we ran Jan. 28 we really didn’t think he’d run as hard as he did against El Padrino,” said Byrne. He ran hard that day, and he got tired. He needs five, six weeks, at least (between races), so that’s the reason we took aim at the Tampa Bay race. When we were sitting there and he drew the 10 hole, Chuck and I and Marybeth were talking about it and we said ‘That colt is doing so well, why don’t we take a shot in the Florida Derby.
“We knew he liked the racetrack,” he added. “We’re not surprised. It’s a great result with that pedigree and (winning) a Grade 1. Chuck and Maribeth have been in the business two years, and this is their first Grade 1. They deserve it.”
As Borel headed back to the jockeys’ room, he was greeted by a round of applause from appreciative handicappers.
“He needed the last race, I don’t care what anybody says,” Borel said. “This horse, he has the potential. He has the breeding behind him. Pat’s been to the big dance, so he wasn’t coming to play, I’ll tell you that.”
Reveron, a son of Songandaprayer owned by Stipa Racing Stable, held Union Rags safe to secure the place spot.
Trainer Agustin Bezara was quick to point out what’s next up for his colt.
“The Kentucky Derby,” he said. “The race was very good, and that’s good. It was the first time we ran with the rest of these horses and (showed we) can (run with them). Like this we’re going for the other (race). He’s a great horse.”
Bezara will train the horse at Calder leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Leparoux was encouraged by his mount’s performance.
“He ran good and he finished good,” Leparoux said. “We were in traffic and they were riding me. My horse finished well, especially the last 1/8. It was just bad luck. He is a professional. He doesn’t care about being on the rail, in behind, or dirt (in his face). Nobody paid attention to the winner, they let him go. I guess they just target the favorite.”
Michael Matz, trainer of Union Rags, remains confident in his charge despite the third-place finish.
“Julien (Leparoux) said Javier (Castellano) was on him the whole time down the backside, but that’s just race-riding,” Matz said. “He said he should have been closer the way the track has been right now. Horses aren’t coming back. Pat’s horse (trainer Pat Byrne-trained Take Charge Indy) got an easy lead and he got a head start on me, and we just couldn’t get him. Julien said he just didn’t get out in time and the way the track is today, you had to be close to the pace. I’m not going to trade with anybody. It’s just unfortunate how it turned out today, but he can’t help that. It was just one of those things.”
Take Charge Indy/Stafford photo