Sunday, March 18, 2012

Union Rags, Take Charge Indy Breeze

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Early Florida Derby (G1) favorite Union Rags went to the track at Palm Meadows Training Center Saturday morning for an easy five-furlong workout in preparation for Gulfstream Park’s signature race on March 31.

The 3-year-old son of Dixie Union, who made an auspicious 2012 debut in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 26, covered the distance in 1:04 1/5 under jockey Julien Leparoux.

“It was just a maintenance work. He didn’t go that fast, but Julien said he did everything he wanted him to do,” said trainer Michael Matz from Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach. “He’ll work a half-mile next week, and we’ll be ready to go.”

Chadds Ford Stables’ colt cemented his standing as the early favorite for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (G1) by capturing the Fountain of Youth by four lengths without needing much encouragement from Leparoux.

The Kentucky-bred colt established himself as a serious prospect for the 2012 Triple Crown last year when he won his first three races, including the Saratoga Special (G2) and Champagne (G1). He suffered his first loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs while falling a head short of catching Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) after enduring an extremely wide trip.

Another possible entrant for the Florida Derby made the Palm Meadows work tab Saturday morning. Alpha, who will likely run in either the Florida Derby or the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 7, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Take Charge Indy Breezes for Florida Derby

Chuck and Maribeth Sanford’s 3-year-old Take Charge Indy breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Pat Byrne as he is kept on edge for a start in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), a race his connections hope will earn him a start in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on Sat., May 5 at Churchill Downs.

“He worked really well as usual,” said Byrne. “He’ll have one more maintenance work next Saturday or Sunday and we’re ready to go. He’s doing great. I wish the race was next week. The track was not fast this morning.” Exercise rider Frank Todd was aboard for the workout and Byrne confirmed Calvin Borel as his rider for the Florida Derby.

A regally-bred colt by A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, Take Charge Indy ran a very good second to El Padrino in a 1 1/16 miles allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 29 in his first start since a very respectable fifth-place finish in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Take Charge Indy was entered to run in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) last Saturday, but was scratched after Byrne decided he was uncomfortable with his post position 10 draw in the full field of 12.

“I think it was the right decision. That can be a funny race track to ship and run over the first time, and then as the race turned out the horses that ran one-two (Prospective and Golden Ticket) came out of the one and two posts. I’m comfortable with where we are. We’ve got a million reasons (Florida Derby purse) to go this way.”

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