EVEN WITH SOME DRAMA, TAKE CHARGE INDY GLISTENS IN THE MUD – Chuck and Maribeth Sandford took a day away from their suburban Chicago home to watch Take Charge Indy put in a major work at Churchill Downs for the Grade I, $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to be run on Saturday, Nov. 5.
"I want to see him run on dirt,” Sandford said of the colt who has made all three of his starts on synthetic Polytrack.With jockey James Graham aboard and working over a “muddy” track after the morning renovation break, Take Charge Indy clocked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.60 with the next fastest five-furlong time being 1:04.20. Fractions for the work were :12.20, :24, :35.60 and :47.60.
Glad you made the trip?
"Yes,” Sandford said. “You want to make sure he can handle the surface he is going to run on. I had never seen him on an off track and for the kind of money you are putting up ($20,000 to pre-enter and $40,000 to pass the entry box), you’d better make sure he can handle the surface he is running on.”
But the work was not without an anxious moment.
Take Charge Indy, wearing blinkers as he has done since running second in the GIII Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 10, broke off at the half-mile pole and just after the wire, another horse dropped his rider, wheeled toward Take Charge Indy but did not make contact.
“We dodged a bullet there,” trainer Pat Byrne said. “My heart is still pounding. He probably would have gone even faster without that loose horse. It was scary.”
Graham, who was been Take Charge Indy’s regular work rider as well as being aboard for all three starts, was ecstatic after the work.
“Pat wanted a good work and he got a good work,” Graham said. “This is the best he has worked since his maiden win (on July 30) and he did it the right way. I raised the stick at the head of the lane and he went from third gear right into overdrive.”
Graham had no reservations about Take Charge Indy handling the dirt.
“No qualms at all,” Graham said. “He’d bred for it and runs just like his daddy."
"Daddy” is champion A.P. Indy, winner of the 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year in 1992. For good measure, Take Charge Indy’s dam is Take Charge Lady, who compiled a record of 22-11-7-0 for earnings of $2,480,377. Take Charge Lady won the GIII Dogwood at Churchill Downs and finished second in the GI Kentucky Oaks, GII Golden Rod and GII Falls City Handicap.
Byrne, who scored a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile double in 1997 at Hollywood Park with Favorite Trick and the filly Countess Diana and took the Classic here a year later with Awesome Again, was equally thrilled with the work.
“I loved it. How could you not like it?” Byrne said. “We will probably do something easy Sunday or Monday (of Breeders’ Cup week) like three-eighths or a half. He’s ready to go.”
ROCKET TWENTYONE PREPS FOR GREY GOOSE JUVENILE FILLIES – Rocket Twentyone, undefeated winner of the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie, breezed six furlongs over a “muddy” Churchill Downs track Friday in 1:15.60 in preparation for the GI, $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies.
Working on her own under the guidance of regular rider Eddie Razo Jr., who arrived in Louisville late Thursday night to work the filly this morning, Rocket Twentyone recorded fractions of :13, :25.80, :38, :50.60, 1:03 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:29.80.
“She went really well today,” Razo Jr said. “She was slipping a bit around the turns, but she got it together and when I asked her down the stretch she really turned it up nice.”
Trainer Tom Howard was also pleased with the work over less than optimal conditions.
“We’re happy with how she went today, especially with the (muddy track),” Howard said. “We also didn’t want to go too fast and make her do more than she had to. She worked beautifully.”
The Arlington-Washington Lassie was contested over the Polytrack at Arlington Park and Rocket Twentyone will return to the dirt in the Juvenile Fillies. The 2-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie broke her maiden in her first and lone start on dirt, winning by 6 ½ lengths at Prairie Meadows.
“She likes the dirt and she moves over it a lot easier than she does the Polytrack,” Howard said.
After the “beautiful” work from Rocket Twentyone, the Howard barn is beginning to get quite pumped up as pre-entry date for the Breeders’ Cup approaches.
"We pre-enter the 24th and I keep looking at that date to make sure we don’t miss it,” Howard’s wife Kathy said with a smile. “This is a big deal for us and we’re very excited.”