It had been just over a week since all the sports talk was surrounding the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning and potential first round pick Andrew Luck. Another Indy decided to get the city name back in the spotlight and make headlines of his own. The Patrick Byrne trained colt Take Charge Indy would gate to wire the 8 horse Florida Derby field and defeat heavy favorite Union Rags in the process.
Of course all the talk leading up to the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park was about Union Rags and him potentially being the favorite on May 5th in the Kentucky Derby. His only loss came to Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (by a head). The latest win for the Dixie Union colt in the Fountain of Youth Stakes was so impressive, that the betting public had him bet down to 2/5 come post time.
Take Charge Indy would get to the front and was never really challenged until the end. 35-1 longshot Reveron sat just off the lead with 45-1 Neck ‘n Neck, second choice El Padrino, 98-1 Fort Loudon and Union Rags bunched together a couple of lengths behind him. Union Rags wanted to run early, but jockey Julien Lepraoux had a good hold. For the first 5 to 6 furlongs he was caught in the middle of the pack and never looked comfortable. Meanwhile, on the front end, Take Charge Indy was allowed to get out on fractions of 23.60 and 47.71 for the first half mile. The pace picked up from there as Calvin Borel and Take Charge Indy completed 6 furlongs in 1:12.09. As they hit the far turn, the horses stared to make their moves. Indy still led the race, Reveron was holding firm in 2nd, but Union Rags and El Padrino couldn’t seem to find their gears. As they straighten out down the stretch, Union Rags, who was held on the rail started to make a late move on the two front runners. Take Charge Indy and Reveron were digging in while trying to hold of the late challenge. As we’ve seen many times over the last few years, Borel would steal a race as he steered Take Charge Indy to his first ever graded stakes win while completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.79. Reveron held on for 2nd by a neck over Union Rags. El Padrino finished 4th, 1 3/4 lengths further back.
So what do we take away from this race?
Union Rags was not the same horse as we saw in the Fountain of Youth. When asked, he did not immediately fire. Does this mean he shouldn’t be considered a favorite for the Kentucky Derby. No. This colt is still a major threat. I just didn’t like the fact that it took him from the far turn to the middle of the stretch to kick into full gear. The good thing is, when he was asked, he was clawing his way towards the leader with every stride. If this race was the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles, he wins.
I really liked the ever improving Take Charge Indy and how we was able to stave off late challenges and finish with a strong time. Yes, the first 1/4 and 1/2 mile factions were not fast and he had a little left in the tank for the end, but for a horse who always seemed to hang around but never get the job done, this was a fantastic final race as he heads to Louisville next month. With the win, the $600,000 purse money gets added to his existing $98,400 for a total of $698,400. Putting him at #3 on the graded earnings list.
I’m not sure what to say after watching what unfolded at Fair Grounds race course for the $1,000,000 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. The field of 13 horses included LeComte Stakes winner Mr. Bowling and his entry mate Mark Valeski, who just ran 2nd to El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes. The race also featured two time graded stakes runner-up Rousing Sermon, who makes his first start away from Southern California. The race was wide open considering these select horses, but no one expected the outcome that was to be.
Hero of Order, 109-1 longest shot on the board pulls off the upset of the year, and the history of the Louisiana Derby. He sat off the pace for the first 5-6 furlongs, then took over the lead from pace setter Comiskey’s Humor. It looked as if he was going to fade as they turned for home when Mark Valeski was making his move down the middle of the track. The Sharp Humor colt had a different agenda. He dug back in, and held on to win by 1/2 length. Mark Valeski finished 2nd 1 1/2 lengths in front of closing Rousing Sermon, who just got up to nip Cigar Street by a nose. The final time was 1:50.13.
A couple of things to take away from this race aside from the fact that a 109-1 horse won a million dollar race. Mark Valeski, who many felt would win this race after losing by a nose to El Padrino in the Risen Star, could not catch up and defeat a horse who took 9 times to break his maiden at Arlington Park, Hawthorne, Keeneland and Fair Ground. Rousing Sermon once again shows flashes of a great late runner only to miss yet again. Mr. Bowling lacked any serious activity in this race and finished 12th. The hardest part to swallow for the trainers and owners of the horses who did not win, but had a chance to qualify for the Derby with a win or good showing is that the ever so important $600,000 winners share from this race went to a horse who can’t even go to the Derby. Despite having enough graded stakes earnings now. He was not entered for the Derby or triple crown. Two things would need to happen in order for him to make the trip to Kentucky and run in the Derby.
1. He would need to be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000
2. He would need less than 20 horses nominated for the race
I’m banking that this horse doesn’t make the trip.
FACT: Hero of Order was a $3,000 purchase at the 2010 Keeneland Sale. Talk about your rags to riches story. You have to love horse racing!
Make sure to view the updated graded stakes earnings and see who currently sits within the top 20 qualified and who is on the outside looking in.