Take Charge Indy: Chicago's Derby Hope

At the top of the ChicagoNow Derby Dozen List and a fixture on many Kentucky Derby lists is TAKE CHARGE INDY (A.P. Indy - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere). He earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate thanks to a wire-to-wire victory in the March 31 Grade 1 Florida Derby. Owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford of northern Illinois and trained by Patrick Byrne (see below), he represents Chicago’s best hope for the Kentucky Derby in many years.

[Photo courtesy The Paulick Report/D. Wimptheimer]

As a two-year-old, TAKE CHARGE INDY won his career first race, a maiden special weight going six furlongs at Arlington Park. Next he finished second in the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, also at Arlington. (Video courtesy Daily Racing Form.)  TAKE CHARGE INDY closed out his two-year-old season with a fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and a fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  He started his three-year-old season finishing second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. He was set to run next in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, but bypassed it in favor of the Florida Derby.

[TAKE CHARGE INDY before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Photo courtesy The Paulick Report.]

In the following interview, Picks and Ponderings introduces you to Byrne and his sophomore star. (Interview conducted by telephone.)


How did TAKE CHARGE INDY come into your barn?

He was RNAed for $80,000,  then he was purchased privately for an undisclosed amount by Secure Investments and then the Sandfords bought fifty percent of him in January 2011. After the purchase he was taken to Ocala, Florida. (where he was put into training). [The Sandfords became full owners soon after.]

Tell me about the Sandfords. What is like to work for them?

They’re kind and considerate, and almost like a family.  The best owners around.

[Owners’ colors courtesy HorseRacingNation.]

Let’s go back to his two-year-old campaign. When did you think of stakes races and graded races for TAKE CHARGE INDY?

After winning the first time at Arlington, we thought of stakes races for him and he was entered in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.

There was a lot of criticism when you scratched out of the Tampa Bay Derby. Whose idea was it to scratch and why did it happen?

It was a joint decision between the owners and myself. We hated the outside post in the Tampa Bay Derby, it was a track we were unfamiliar with, we were based at Gulfstream, and it was a four-hour van ride. We liked running at Gulfstream Park more than at Tampa Bay Downs.

In hindsight, passing the Tampa Bay Derby was the right decision. How was it to win the G1 Florida Derby?

It was unbelievable. Even more unbelievable, since I’ve had some really good horses.

[TAKE CHARGE INDY with rider Calvin Borel winning the Florida Derby. Photo courtesy of Coglianese Photos and video courtesy of Youtube/NTRA.]

From now until the Kentucky Derby, what will you do to prepare him?

We’ll breeze him twice at Palm Meadows [in Florida], and we don’t intend for the workouts to be quick. The first workout will be at four or five furlongs and be next week (week starting Sunday April 15) and another workout a week later. We’re set to fly to Churchill Downs on May 1.

You’ve trained some talented horses through the years--Awesome Again, Countess Diana, Favorite Trick. How does TAKE CHARGE INDY compare to them?

It’s hard to make comparisons, but he’s the best three-year-old I’ve ever trained. He’s equally as talented and he could be as good as all of them when all said and done.

How is it as a trainer to have a Kentucky Derby contender?

Very exciting. I’m blessed. Since I train only about eleven or twelve horses and not many more, it’s gratifying to have one like this.

With nearly $700K in graded earnings and a G1 win going nine furlongs TAKE CHARGE INDY has the tools to be a legitimate contender in the Kentucky Derby. With ownership from northern Illinois, he’ll be the best locally-based Derby hope in recent memory.  Good luck to the Sandfords, trainer Patrick Byrne, and TAKE CHARGE INDY.


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  • Great interview. I love reading about some local horse racing stories. Keep up the good work.

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