Updated on 09/17/2011 10:45AM

Take Charge Lady ready for Phipps


ELMONT, N.Y. - Seemingly over a foot injury that forced her to miss last weekend's Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, Take Charge Lady was declared fit and ready to go for this Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park.

Take Charge Lady zipped five furlongs in 59.66 seconds Sunday over Belmont's main track, her third strong work since recovering from a bruised left front foot.

"I needed the extra week. I needed the extra work," trainer Ken McPeek said Monday. "The foot is fine; it's pretty much a nonissue."

Take Charge Lady initially bruised her foot in late April at Churchill, an injury that forced her to scratch out of the Louisville Breeders' Cup on May 2.

The Phipps will be Take Charge Lady's first start since falling a head short to defending Horse of the Year Azeri in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park April 6. It's a loss that still haunts McPeek, whose filly looked like a winner in deep stretch.

"The day I enjoy losing a photo like that, there's something wrong with me," McPeek said. "That was a painful last jump. I look forward to taking her on again at some point; when and where that is remains to be seen."

Edgar Prado, who rode Take Charge Lady in her last five starts in 2002, will be reunited with her on Saturday. Shane Sellers, who rode Take Charge Lady in the Apple Blossom, is scheduled to ride Wild and Wicked for McPeek in Saturday's Ohio Derby.

Take Charge Lady was assigned co-high weight of 119 pounds for the Phipps, run at 1 1/16 miles. Imperial Gesture, the other highweight, is not expected to run.

Humana Distaff winner Sightseek, Ruffian Handicap winner Mandy's Gold, and the multiple graded-stakes winner Smok'n Frolic are the only other confirmed runners. All were assigned 118 pounds. Forest Secrets and Lady Liberty are questionable for the race.

On Monday, Sightseek worked five furlongs over Belmont's main track in 58.91 seconds, the fastest of 36 moves at the distance. On Sunday, Smok'n Frolic worked four furlongs in 48.25 seconds over the main track.

Volponi to get blinkers for Suburban

The plans for the five horses coming out of Saturday's Brooklyn Handicap are somewhat muddled. The only thing for certain is that Volponi, the Brooklyn runner-up, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Suburban on July 5, and he will wear blinkers in that race.

Trainer Phil Johnson raised some eyebrows when he removed the blinkers from Volponi's equipment for his seasonal debut in May after the colt won the Breeders' Cup Classic with blinkers. Johnson said there was a method behind his madness.

"I didn't want him in his first two races to be anxious and wound up," Johnson said. "When a horse is fresh, you don't need to add to the ammunition. Now that he's quiet and settled I can put the blinkers back on him."

Brooklyn winner Iron Deputy is likely to skip the Suburban and train up to the $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 2.

"I'm more likely not to run than to run," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said of the Suburban, noting that it may be too close to run back. "It's not out of the question. We'll wait about a week and see what's going on."

Jerkens said the 10-furlong distance of the Suburban is not an issue because Iron Deputy is rateable, despite the fact that he went gate to wire in the Brooklyn.

"Everybody was talking like he's a known front-runner," Jerkens said. "When did he ever go to the lead in any race?"

Trainer Shug McGaughey is also taking a wait-and-see approach with Brooklyn third-place finisher Saarland with regard to the Suburban. McGaughey said "it might be too much too quick," and he may also wait for the Whitney.

Pat Kelly said he got what he expected from Evening Attire, who finished fourth in the Brooklyn, Evening Attire's first start since Nov. 23. Kelly likes the 10 furlongs of the Suburban but would rather run Evening Attire in a true two-turn race, such as the Whitney.

Trainer Todd Pletcher was hoping Harlan's Holiday would run well enough in the Brooklyn that he could skip the Suburban and point straight to the Whitney. But after breaking slowly and finishing last, Harlan's Holiday may need another start before the Whitney, Pletcher said.

"The Suburban would certainly be one of the possibilities," Pletcher said.

Funny Cide back on track

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide returned to the track Monday for the first time since finishing third in the Belmont Stakes, jogging 1 1/2 miles the wrong way under exercise rider Robin Smullen.

"Wanted to get a little weight on his back," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "He looks great, he didn't lose any weight, his coat's good, he's feeling good."

Tagg said Funny Cide spent most of the last week playing in a round pen, rolling on his back.

"It's the best massage they can possibly get," Tagg said.

While Tagg is pointing Funny Cide to the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 3, Tagg said he won't run in that race if he feels that Funny Cide has been unfairly weighted. Judging by past Haskells, Funny Cide figures to be assigned 124 pounds.

"The big thing is what kind of spread there is,' Tagg said, referring to how much weight Funny Cide would have to give a horse such as Peace Rules. "If they weight him too much, the Haskell is out."

Tagg's major objective for the summer is the Travers on Aug. 23 at Saratoga.

Sky Mesa works toward return

Sky Mesa breezed six furlongs in 1:14.26 over a fast main track Monday, his first breeze since arriving here on May 29.

Trainer John Ward had hoped to start Sky Mesa in an allowance race this week at Belmont, but the missed training - due primarily to Ward's reluctance to train Sky Mesa over a wet track - canceled those plans. Now, Ward is targeting the Dwyer Stakes on July 6 for Sky Mesa's 3-year-old debut. Ward is hoping to also make the Haskell and Travers.

"He hasn't backed up much," Ward said. "He might have gotten a little leg-weary galloping out, but he wasn't blowing much coming back. [The Dwyer] is our next reasonable spot. It gives us time for a couple of more good works."

Sky Mesa has not run since winning the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October. He was scratched from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with an ankle injury, then sustained a bruised foot this winter while training in South Florida.