Friday, April 27, 2012

Derby Hopeful: Take Charge Indy

With wins in the Alcibiades Stakes (GII), the Silverbulletday Stakes (GIII), the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), and the Ashland Stakes (GI) under her belt, the bay daughter of Dehere loaded into the starting gate for the prestigious Kentucky Oaks (GI) as the favorite. But it was a 20-1 shot that upset the field, leaving the favorite 1 ¼ lengths behind.

Nonetheless, the Oaks favorite continued to be successful in graded stakes races, triumphing in the Dogwood Stakes (GIII), the Spinster Stakes (GI) twice, and the Arlington Matron Handicap (GIII). With $2,480,377 in earnings, Take Charge Lady retired.

Over four years after her final race, the mare was bred to the great sire A.P. Indy. The result of this mating was Take Charge Indy, who made his racing debut as a juvenile at the end of July of 2011 at Arlington Park, going six furlongs over the synthetic surface at the Illinois track. After rating off the pace, Take Charge Indy took command late in the race to draw away to a 6 ½-length win.

He started next in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII), falling a length short to Shared Property after coming from off the pace. Behind Take Charge Indy were the future winners of one grade three and two ungraded stakes races.

Take Charge Indy then took on a tough field at Keeneland in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI), settling off the leaders before gamely trying to catch them in the homestretch. However, he did not have the needed acceleration in the stretch and finished fourth behind the future Blue Grass Stakes (GI)-winning half-brother to Mine That Bird in Dullahan, the graded stakes-winning Majestic City, and the multiple graded stakes-placed Optimizer. He defeated a deep cast, however, finishing ahead of two graded stakes winners.

His performances as a two-year-old were enough to convince trainer Patrick Byrne and owners Chuck and Maribeth Sandford to send the colt to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). Running mid-pack, Take Charge Indy settled along the rail with dead aim on Hansen. Despite willingly trying to chase the leaders around the far turn and into the homestretch, Take Charge Indy yet again lacked the needed kick and was nailed by Dullahan at the wire, finishing fifth behind Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause, and Dullahan. Despite being beaten by over 5 lengths, Take Charge Indy defeated runners that had altogether won or would go on to win six graded stakes and seven ungraded stakes, as well as horses that had placed or would go on to place in nine graded stakes and one ungraded stakes in total.

Take Charge Indy’s sophomore debut came in a mile and one-sixteenth allowance optional claiming over a sealed track at Gulfstream Park. That day, however, he contested against the graded stakes-placed and future graded stakes-winning El Padrino. The son of Take Charge Lady pressed the pace before El Padrino swept past him, leaving him 2 lengths behind. It was clear that Take Charge Indy was much better than the rest of the group, however, as he finished 13 ¾ lengths clear of the third-place finisher.

Take Charge Indy
Photo: Terri Cage
Take Charge Indy did not race for two months, but when he returned, it came in Florida’s premier Run for the Roses prep, the Florida Derby (GI). For the first time, Take Charge Indy set the pace, posting steady fractions. Despite the fact that he had the brilliant grade one-winning Union Rags and El Padrino after him, Take Charge Indy dug in beneath three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel to score by a length.

Many worry about Take Charge Indy’s running style, afraid that his early speed will take too much of a toll on him, especially with horses like Bodemeister, Hansen, and Trinniberg slated to run. However, Take Charge Indy has made most of his starts with a stalking style and when he did set the pace, the fractions were certainly not overwhelming fast. The colt could definitely settle off the pace in the Kentucky Derby.

Just by glancing at his parents, you know Take Charge Indy is beautifully bred. If you dig a little deeper, you will be even more impressed by his bloodlines. Not only is his sire, A.P. Indy, a stamina-influencing champion sire and his dam a multiple grade one winner, but Take Charge Indy’s damsire is Dehere, who is also the broodmare sire of the champion sprinter Midnight Lute, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII)-winning More Than Real, the graded stakes-winning First Passage, and the multiple graded stakes-winning Friesan Fire – who is bred on the same A.P. Indy/Dehere cross as Take Charge Indy. When crossed with sires of Secretariat descent, Dehere mares have produced a total of fourteen stakes winners.

Take Charge Indy is inbred 3 X 4 to the great Secretariat, tracing back to him through A.P. Indy’s dam – the great Weekend Surprise – and through Dehere’s dam. Inbreeding to Secretariat appears in the pedigrees of several grade one winners, including Bluegrass Cat, D’Wildcat, Sky Mesa, and Speightstown. Prominent sires such as Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, and Turn-To, as well as the great mare Somethingroyal, appear frequently in Take Charge Indy’s bloodlines.

The 2012 Florida Derby winner descends from female family twenty-two, which not only yielded the great champions Blushing Groom and Goldikova, but also the Derby victors Count Turf and Street Sense.

Take Charge Indy will need to run the best race he’s ever run in his life in the Kentucky Derby, but should he live up to his pedigree, Take Charge Indy would give A.P. Indy his first Kentucky Derby winner near the end of the line of the great sire’s progeny’s racing days. This colt is clearly gifted, but the field he is slated to face is not an easy one to compete against. He’ll need to settle off the leaders and provide great acceleration in the stretch, but if any jockey can ride a Derby winner, it’s Calvin Borel.

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