Up the Backstretch: Derby horse helps Byrne end long stakes drought
By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Trainer Patrick Byrne hadn't had a stakes winner since 2005 at Arlington Park. He broke his losing streak in a big way on Saturday by taking the $1 million Florida Derby.
The native of England sent out 7-1 third choice Take Charge Indy versus odds- on favorite Union Rags in the 1 1/8-mile race at Gulfstream Park. The 5-2 second pick in the eight-horse field was Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino.
Ridden by Calvin Borel, Take Charge Indy motored to the lead shortly after the start and proceeded to go wire-to-wire. Union Rags rallied to finish third a neck behind runner-up and 31-1 longshot Reveron. El Padrino had to settle for fourth.
"We knew he liked the racetrack. We're not surprised," Byrne said. "It's a great result with that pedigree and (winning) a Grade 1."
Take Charge Indy is a son of 1992 champion colt A.P. Indy, which gave Byrne and jockey Calvin Borel legitimate hope going into the Florida Derby.
"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," Borel said. "He�d been off for a while, and I didn't want to take anything from him. I think we got enough out of the race last time for today, and it set him up just right."
Take Charge Indy hadn't started since Jan. 29 when he was second in an optional allowance at Gulfstream. A race won by El Padrino before going to Fair Grounds Race Course where he won the Risen Star,
"I think that was an impressive race for both horses," Byrne noted. "The track was tiring for that race. It had rained and they sealed it. I thought he handled it fine. He just got run down by a really good colt. In my opinion, El Padrino will probably be one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby."
After winning at first asking last July, Take Charge Indy finished a length back in second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity to Shared Property, who was fifth in Sunday's Louisiana Derby.
At Keeneland, on a synthetic surface, the colt was fourth in the Breeders Futurity.
"He wasn't crazy about it (the polytrack)," Byrne said about the Keeneland effort. "In his second start, he made a big move but was green. It was a good effort, but I think he's a better dirt horse."
Racing on dirt at Churchill Downs for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Byrne's charge was 25-1, but finished a respectable fifth to Hansen and Union Rags.
"He was on the rail and that was not the place to be," Byrne said. "I think he would have been closer, 1-2-3, with a smooth trip."
Owned by Charles and Maribeth Sandford, Take Charge Indy is now headed for another big race at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. If the final odds from the third Kentucky Derby Future Wager is any indication, the colt could be one of the favorites for the Run for the Roses.
The colt's odds dropped significantly after his Florida Derby win, going from 50-1 at the opening to closing Sunday night at 15-1, sixth among the 24 betting interests.
04/02 16:02:54 ET