02/04/2013 4:40PM

Gulfstream Park: Donn work puts Take Charge Indy on his toes

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Take Charge Indy (left) finished second to Shackleford (right) in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November. He is slated to make his first start since that race in the Donn Handicap on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Pat Byrne is expecting a big effort on Saturday off the bench from Take Charge Indy, who figures to go postward among the favorites in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Take Charge Indy has not started since finishing second behind Shackleford in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap on Nov. 23.

Take Charge Indy indicated his readiness for the race by working a bullet half-mile in 47.02 at Palm Meadows on Saturday.

“I purposely put a little speed in him, let him stretch his legs, but he did it easily,” said Byrne. “I don’t need to be on the lead in the Donn, but you want to be close on this track. I just wanted him to be sharp, and he’s sharp right now. Looking at the field it’s going to be a good race. We’re just looking to get him started for his 4-year-old season. It’s a long year, and we just want to see where he fits with these horses. But I think he’s ready to run his best race right off the bat. In fact I think he’s better now than he was going into the Florida Derby last winter.”

Take Charge Indy led throughout to win the Florida Derby over a field that included the odds-on favorite Union Rags and El Padrino.

A field of at least eight appears likely for the 1 1/8-mile Donn, and along with Take Charge Indy is expected to include Bourbon Courage, Citrus Kid, Csaba, Flat Out, Graydar, Pool Play, and Ultimate Eagle.

Ultimate Eagle had his final tuneup for the Donn at Hollywood Park on Monday, working five furlongs in 1:01.20 for trainer Michael Pender. Ultimate Eagle, runner-up in the Grade 2 San Pasqual at Santa Anita on Jan. 5, was scheduled to fly to south Florida on Tuesday.