02/06/2012 4:11PM

Take Charge Indy eyes Tampa Bay Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Take Charge Indy is being pointed to the Tampa Bay Derby.

Trainer Pat Byrne said Take Charge Indy's next major objective will likely be the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10. Take Charge Indy, who closed his 2-year-old campaign finishing fifth in the BC Juvenile, earned a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure while finishing two lengths behind El Padrino in his 3-year-old debut.

“In hindsight, I probably should have taken him to Tampa for the Sam Davis instead of running him in that allowance race here the previous week,” Byrne said. “But at the end of the day, I decided it was easier just to send him down the road to Gulfstream, even though I know there is no such thing as an easy allowance race this time of year down here. My horse ran his race, and now we’ve got the allowance race out of the way and need to start looking for some more graded earnings.”

At the moment, Byrne is looking at two Derby preps for Take Charge Indy, the Tampa Bay Derby and the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Park.

“Tampa Bay makes more sense than the Fountain of Youth or Florida Derby,” Byrne said. “I don’t want to meet up with those monsters down here just yet. It’s a long year. And my owner is from Chicago, so he’d like to see him run in the race at Hawthorne. We’re not life and death to make the Derby. Right now, our major objective, with his pedigree, is the Belmont.”

Tampa Bay Derby logical for Battle Hardened

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said the Tampa Bay Derby also could be the next option for Battle Hardened who won his maiden with a very professional 1 1/4-length triumph over the more seasoned stakes winner Prospective in Saturday’s Sam Davis.

“He came out of the race real well,” Kenneally said Monday. “The Tampa Bay Derby would be the most logical spot for his next start, although the Florida Derby is also a possibility. We’ll actually nominate him to all the appropriate races. This is a 3-year-old who is improving all the time and as his races get longer, I think he’ll show even more, since I believe stamina is his strong point.”

Ever So Lucky gets final work for Hutcheson

Ever So Lucky, who makes his 3-year-old debut here Sunday in the seven-furlong Hutcheson, had his final major tune-up at soggy Gulfstream on Monday. Ever So Lucky breezed five-eighths in 1:01.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40 over a sloppy surface under jockey Julien Leparoux, according to track clocker John Nichols. Ever So Lucky has not started since finishing a game second behind the undefeated Gemologist in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 26.