Updated on 04/03/2012 3:57PM

Gulfstream: Take Charge Indy upsets Florida Derby; Union Rags third

Tom Keyser
Take Charge Indy (right) wins the Florida Derby under jockey Calvin Borel. Union Rags (left) had a difficult trip.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – He was right.

Trainer Patrick Byrne insisted for three weeks that his decision to scratch Take Charge Indy from the Tampa Bay Derby was the correct one, even if it meant rolling the dice on a Kentucky Derby berth against Union Rags and El Padrino in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

And then Take Charge Indy and jockey Calvin Borel backed up Byrne’s confidence by stealing the Florida Derby, leading from virtually start to finish in a race whose outcome will be debated right up to post time for the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Take Charge Indy ($17.40) was best by one length over Reveron, with 2-5 favorite Union Rags third after a dreadful trip. El Padrino was fourth and was followed, in order, by Neck ’n Neck, Fort Loudon, News Pending, and Z Camelot.

Take Charge Indy completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:48.79.

“I know my horse. I knew he was ready. I knew he was fit and up to the task,” said Byrne, who was equal parts satisfied, humble, and exasperated in his post-race comments, saying he told a reporter on Friday, “Do we have to talk about the Tampa Bay Derby for the rest of my life?”

Not now. Take Charge Indy won for just the second time in six starts, but he has been among the division’s leaders throughout his career. And his victory was yet another stakes win for horses who competed in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which has become the biggest key race for Derby preps in years.

Take Charge Indy was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup, and had run just once since then, in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 29, finishing second to El Padrino. So, the Florida Derby was his first start in more than two months.

“I didn’t think he was going to have to run as hard as he did when he ran against El Padrino,” Byrne said. “He needs five or six weeks between races. When he drew the 10 hole at Tampa” – which Byrne did not like – “he was doing so good, I thought, ‘Why don’t we take a shot in the Florida Derby?’”

Byrne had willing partners in owners Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, who gave him carte blanche. Byrne thought racing at Gulfstream would be beneficial, too, being as Take Charge Indy had run well here earlier in the meet.

But Take Charge Indy still had to defeat two of the leading lights among this year’s Derby crop. Enter Borel. The winner of the Kentucky Derby three times in the last five years, Borel recognized the track profile at Gulfstream on Saturday and seized the lead leaving the gate. Reveron hounded him throughout, and briefly took the lead about a quarter-mile out, but Take Charge Indy had plenty left after six furlongs in 1:12.09.

“I knew if I could get 1:11 and 3, or 1:12, he’d finish,” Borel said. “He needed that race last time. He’s got a lot of potential, with his pedigree.”

Take Charge Indy is by A.P. Indy and is out of the multiple stakes-winning mare Take Charge Lady.

Union Rags, who finished third, was in traffic for much of the race while between horses and only got free late. He also had to have his right hind shoe re-shod in the saddling paddock, which caused a minor delay..

“We were in traffic and they were riding me,” said Julien Leparoux, who rode Union Rags. “It was just bad luck. Nobody paid any attention to the winner. They let him go. I guess they just target the favorite.”

Michael Matz, the trainer of Union Rags, said Leparoux “said he was disappointed in himself, not the horse.”

“He said he should have been closer to the pace the way the track is,” Matz said. “Riders make mistakes.

“I didn’t expect this to happen today, but I’m not going to trade with anybody, that’s for sure.”

El Padrino, the Risen Star winner, was outside of Union Rags, with jockey Javier Castellano – who used to ride Union Rags – keeping the favorite bottled up. But when Castellano asked El Padrino to take advantage of that position, he had nothing.

“He was flat. I don’t know why,” Castellano said.

“He just didn’t finish,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains El Padrino. “We’ll see how he comes out of it and decide where to go from there.”

--additional reporting by Mike Welsch



David Craighead More than 1 year ago
Ok, union rag's got beat because of jockey era !!..And I'll tell you why . L. hard helt him for about 3/8's of a mile down on the rail and than when time to do the real running he encountered traffic problems until the last 1/16th of a mile and that decided to make a run for the wire !...The stragery of old didn't work this time. so, he got beat cause of the little era of jockey !..I've watch the review tape from start to finish and that's my assessment of the race. Ok, I can forgive the jockey and hope he won't make the same mistake...move on !
Steve Roman More than 1 year ago
Your assessment is wrong.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
In days not too long ago Casellano would have been flattened in the jock's room after that mess.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Sometimes you gotta deliver a message so there won't be a next time. The old boxing ring at Delaware Park was a busy, busy spot...
Monroe More than 1 year ago
Union Rags made up a quarter lenth with every jump after getting outside of the second place horse.
Steve Roman More than 1 year ago
Pure nonsense. The chart shows that he gained a total of 2 1/4 lengths in the last eighth of mile. So what you're saying is that he took a maximum of only 9 strides over the final 660 feet.. Pretty good. That's almost 75 feet per stride or three times the stride length of Secretariat so you must be right.
Julio Mauricio More than 1 year ago
You have the favorite in the Florida Derby, ride the horse! Bad ride from Leparoux, not surprised because he does this often.
robdybas More than 1 year ago
having used the winner and El Padrino in the pk4, i was paying close attention to those two. to be honest, i thought JJ on padrino was purposely keeping union rags blocked in. once Rags got free, he closed like a frieght train. he probably got more out of this race finishing 3rd than he would of if he won.
Nicholas Heaven More than 1 year ago
I think rags will rebound. Poor ride but every jockey deserves a second chance
Phil D More than 1 year ago
Yeah i thought is was mostly jockey mistakes, when Leparoux had him near rail and was boxed in most of the way and in final stretch he took UR to the rail again. I think UR best races if hes off the rail or in the middle in home stretch. I don't think he likes the rail when running. Leparoux and the trainer figure it out for derby. I'm not giving up on them.
Dean Wells More than 1 year ago
Let us not forget..... this is not the "Derby" that "Rags" is aiming at !! nuf said
Doug Vair More than 1 year ago
Union Rags did not change leads till about the 1/8th pole. Bad ride yes, jock could have gone to or near the lead first time past the grandstand, but Rags obviously regressed. Let's see how he bounces back.
Doug Vair More than 1 year ago
Why did officials at GP not tell us about the fav needing re-shod in paddock? If it was announced on network tv it did not come across the simulcast network.
Nicholas Heaven More than 1 year ago
Thank u very much. They shud av inform the public. Most ppl don't bet horses with pre-race issues
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
no doubt this was a weird race,but a lot of these preps are,trainers and jockeys are trying to teach the true derby contenders how to rate puting them into tough spots on purpose so they learn for the big dace,while others with no shot in the derby are full out going for the prize money and black type,some need graded earnings to get in others dont and just want a decent stepping stone type result,the derby itself is a crap shoot rags could draw the rail and loose 70% of any chance he had,the best horse today might be a horse thats peaked as a 3 yo,while others are developing fast and catching up,the best we can do is stick with what works,usualy the race is won by a horse that is bred to stay the dist,trained by a top trainer and has the fundation to peak at the right time,most derby winners are bred on a few trends northern dancer on mr prospector,or vice versa,the hope your horse finds a decent trip,doent get into a speed duel,and doesnt draw the dreaded one hole,after looking at lucky im convinced its bad news,i know ferdinand won from there but there are no shoemakers in this day and age,if you bet the aberations,horses bred to sprint /mile or mudd larks (super saver,mine that bird) or plodders who need the race to fall apart,(giacomo) the get the apropriate odds.