04/26/2012 2:54PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Take Charge Indy puts in final work before shipping

Barbara D. Livingston
Mark Valeski, with trainer Larry Jones up, exercises over the Churchill Downs main track on Thursday.

LOUISVLLE, Ky. – Thursday was a another day of relative inactivity on the Kentucky Derby watch here at Churchill Downs, where early morning showers gave way to sunshine and warm temperatures by the time the special Derby-Oaks training session began at 8:30 a.m. Only seven potential Derby starters trained, including likely favorite Bodemeister, who merely jogged one mile the wrong way accompanied by a pony on his first day back to the track following Tuesday’s five-furlong breeze.

The major news on the Derby front Thursday morning came down in south Florida, where Take Charge Indy turned in his final major piece of work in the seclusion of the nearly empty Palm Meadows training center. Take Charge Indy is one of three likely Derby runners still stabled at Palm Meadows, along with trainer Todd Pletcher’s duo of Gemologist and El Padrino.

[KENTUCKY DERBY WORKOUTS: Latest updates, Mike Welsch's video reports]

Take Charge Indy (five furlongs in 1:00.47, according to track clocker Bryan Walls) – Walls said the Florida Derby winner broke off at the half-mile pole under exercise rider Susie Bricker about a length behind stablemate Zimmer and went his first eighth in a crisp 11.60 seconds before settling into a nice, even stride. He then proceeded to clip off 12-second eighths around to the wire, posting subsequent splits of 23.60, 35.60, and 47.60, while on even terms with Zimmer before continuing strongly into the bend to complete his drill at the mile pole. Walls said Take Charge Indy galloped out willingly, six furlongs in 1:14.60, while finishing four lengths in front of his company.

“He looked great,” Walls said. “He couldn’t have gone any easier, the rider never asked him at any point.”

Byrne, not surprisingly, was even more enthused than Walls.

“It was a super work,” Byrne said by phone several minutes after the work. “He couldn’t have gone any better. He went faster than I liked, but that’s all right because of the way he did it. Visually, he looked like he was just two-minute licking. It was very impressive. He’s always worked well in company, it keeps him more focused. I feel really good going into the Derby.”

Take Charge Indy will fly to Louisville on Tuesday and only gallop the remainder of the week at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Derby duo of Sabercat and Daddy Nose Best went out early, as usual, under the lights over a track that still contained a fair amount of moisture at the time. They turned in easy gallops Thursday.

The sun was out and the temperature had climbed to near 70 degrees by the time the rest of the locally based Derby brigade hit the track, which was upgraded to fast after the break. Dullahan got a little hot during his routine gallop, although nothing serious, while Mark Valeski picked up his somewhat leisurely pace a bit entering the backstretch the final time after being joined by Oaks candidate Eden’s Moon who was in the midst of a more spirited gallop at the time.

The day’s most impressive training session belonged to On Fire Baby, who continues to show a high energy level during her morning gallops. On Thursday, she dragged her rider around at nearly a two-minute clip, covering a mile from the five-furlong pole in 2:01.57 over the good track shortly after 6 a.m.