During the late 1990s, trainer Pat Byrne was at the height of his career as he guided the campaigns of Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Awesome Again, multiple Grade I winner Favorite Trick and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) star Countess Diana. Now, more than 20 years later, Byrne is hoping Indy Takes Charge can add her name to his list of star horses as he points the precocious filly to the $150,000 Debutante Stakes (Listed) at Churchill Downs on June 29, closing day of the 38-day Spring Meet.
Indy Takes Charge cruised to a 3 ¼-length maiden score on May 31 at Churchill Downs at odds of 21-1. Owned by Chuck and Marybeth Sanford LLC, Indy Takes Charge worked a bullet three furlongs in :35.40 Friday with assistant trainer and exercise rider Loren Diego in the saddle.
“She popped right out in her debut to really win impressively,” Byrne said. “She really came back good and looked great breezing Friday. We’re just in the building blocks of her career right now but if she can show this kind of spark as a 2-year-old it will always get you excited.”
Byrne, a native of London, England, has a special connection to Indy Takes Charge after he trained her sire, multiple graded stakes-winner Take Charge Indy.
“It’s always special to have (Take Charge Indy) progeny in the barn,” Byrne said. “He was a very special horse to Marybeth and her late husband Chuck. (Indy Takes Charge) has that precociousness as her sire did.”
The six-furlong Debutante is part of a stakes triple header on closing day. Also on the card will be the $150,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs and the $120,000-added Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs. Nominations for the Debutante and Bashford Manor close Saturday at midnight. For more information, visit www.churchilldowns.com.
FATHER’S DAY TICKET PACKAGE – Churchill Downs is offering a special Father’s Day combo ticket offer for Sunday’s 10-race program. The Father’s Day combo includes a reserved box seat, official program, domestic beer or souvenir soda, and a hot dog for only $15. Visit https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/16005572E3D31EA3?did=fathersday and select Father’s Day combo as a ticket type to purchase on Ticketmaster.com. Also available is the Stakes & Eggs Brunch in the Stakes Room for $57.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing for Saturday’s Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser will kick off at 6 p.m. The 11-race program features a stakes bonanza with the $600,000 Stephen Foster Presented by GE Appliances (GII), $250,000 Fleur de Lis Presented by Budweiser (GII), $250,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Matt Winn and $150,000 Regret. Also carded is the $100,000 President of the UAE Cup (GI) for purebred Arabians. The theme is “The Big Easy” and guests are encouraged to dress in their best purple, green and gold in honor of Mardi Gras. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen began Saturday’s card needing four wins to become only the third trainer in Churchill Downs history to have 700 victories beneath the Twin Spires. … Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. was six wins away from 600 victories at Churchill Downs.