In 1997, the affable native of England conditioned Breeders’ Cup-winning juveniles Countess Diana and Favorite Trick, who would become the first 2-year-old since Secretariat to earn Horse of the Year honors. The following year, Byrne saddled Awesome Again to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
“I’ve had my share of good ones and I’ve had my share of not-so-good ones,” said Byrne of his stable of thoroughbreds over the years.
Byrne has every reason to believe he has another good one in Take Charge Indy. The son of 1992 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner A.P. Indy began his racing career in July of 2011 on the polytrack at Arlington Park. He broke his maiden going six furlongs at first asking. He returned two months later in the Arlington-Washington Futurity and finished second by a length to Shared Property. Byrne then took his trainee to Keeneland in October for the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). The dark bay colt finished fourth, beaten four lengths.
“He wasn’t crazy about it (the polytrack),” said Byrne. “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.”
Take Charge Indy’s last two starts came on the dirt. His final start in 2011 was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs. He raced in mid-pack, about four lengths off the lead, but had to steady at the 7/8 pole. Consequently, he did not make up much ground and finished fifth in the 1 1/16 event.
“He was on the rail and that was not the place to be,” said Byrne. “I think he would have been closer, 1-2-3, with a smooth trip.”
The dark bay colt started his 2012 campaign here at Gulfstream Park in a 1 1/16 optional claiming race. Calvin Borel positioned the son of A.P. Indy in second, took command after running a half mile, but tired and finished second to El Padrino and was beaten two lengths.
“I think that was an impressive race for both horses,” commented Byrne. “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.”
Take Charge Indy has had four solid works in preparation for his start in the Florida Derby. His connections are hoping their colt continues forward to a possible start in a Triple Crown race.
“It’s exciting when they run good at three,” said Byrne. “His last breeze was a nice one. He’s doing good. He still has to step up and I think we’ll find out a lot more after this race. Each race is a small step in the learning process.
“If he doesn’t make enough money and get into the (Kentucky) Derby, my owners are absolutely okay with that,” commented Byrne. “Chuck has this thing about the Belmont (Stakes) since (Take Charge Indy) is by A.P. Indy. who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes).