04/19/2012 11:03AM

2012 Kentucky Derby: Take Charge Indy goes easily in penultimate work


BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – For a horse who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby and defeated then division leader Union Rags less than three weeks ago, Take Charge Indy is receiving virtually no respect and hardly a mention in any discussions focusing on the leading contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby. All of that suits Take Charge Indy’s trainer, Pat Byrne, just fine.

“I like to be flying under the radar,” Byrne said shortly after Take Charge Indy worked five furlongs in 1:01.47 at a very quiet Palm Meadows training center shortly after dawn on Thursday morning.

Thursday’s breeze was the first for Take Charge Indy since his one-length victory over Reveron and Union Rags in the $1 million Florida Derby on March 31.

Breaking off at the half-mile pole outside workmate Transplendent, a maiden from the barn of trainer John Kimmel, Take Charge Indy posted splits of 12.26 seconds for the opening eighth and 24.06 for his first quarter. Take Charge Indy edged a length clear once settling into the stretch while well in hand and was never asked to the wire, completing a very easy half-mile in 48.26. He then continued out around the turn with exercise rider Eric Rodriguez beginning to ease up on his mount prior to reaching the mile pole, negating any possible gallop-out around the bend.

“First of all I’d like to thank John Kimmel for lending me his rider and a horse to use for company this morning,” said Byrne who shares Barn 21 at the nearly deserted Palm Meadows with Kimmel. “This is the first time Eric has ever been on him and he said he went like a Cadillac. I told him not to do too much with this horse, he’s ready, and I think that’s why he reached up and grabbed him a little early. He can clip off 12-second eighths like that all day. He didn’t even take a deep breath and you could see a big difference in him this morning compared to his final work prior to the Florida Derby. He’s a lot more focused when he goes in company.”

Byrne said he’ll bring Take Charge Indy back for one more work prior to the Derby, probably an even easier half-mile at Palm Meadows next Thursday morning. Take Charge Indy is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs along with trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby contingent on May 1.

“I saw enough today to know my horse is where he has to be,” said Byrne. “He’ll have to run a little faster in the Derby than he’s been running, but I think he will. It’s all in the hands of the gods now. What a wide-open Derby this is going to be. The best horse doesn’t necessarily have to win the Derby, and at this point I don’t really know who the best horse is. If you talk to about seven or eight of the trainers in this year’s Derby they’ll all say they wouldn’t trade places with anybody. And I wouldn’t either.”