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Gulfstream News & Notes: Take Charge Indy, Miami Cat, Itsmyluckyday
Byrne Weighs Options for Take Charge Indy
WinStar Farm LLC and Maribeth and Chuck Sandford’s 4-year-old Take Charge Indy finished third in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) last out at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9 and is nominated for next Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G3) to be run at one mile.
“We nominated him,” said trainer Pat Byrne. “But it’s very unlikely. I don’t see turning him back to a one-turn mile from running two turns in the Donn and then going back to two turns for his next start. There are several options we will consider, including the Skip Away Stakes here at the end of the meet, which would be my personal preference for his next start.”
The $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) will be run at 1 3/16 miles on Florida Derby Day, Saturday, March 30. Fort Larned won the Skip Away last year early in a season climaxed by his victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Fort Larned is set to make his 2013 season debut as the likely favorite in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Take Charge Indy is a regally-bred son of A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady and scored his biggest career victory in the Florida Derby (G1) last year. He finished eight lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Graydar in the Donn with Bourbon Courage second between them.
“It wasn’t a bad race for him,” said Byrne. “It all changed early when the California horse (Ultimate Eagle) apparently hurt himself and didn’t go for the lead with Graydar. That left Todd’s horse (Graydar) out there alone, although he did still set very legitimate fractions. You weren’t going to beat him that day the way he ran
“The other options for his (Take Charge Indy) next start are the New Orleans Handicap and the Oaklawn Handicap with the Stephen Foster at Churchill in the spring a later goal. We’ll be consulting with Elliott (Walden of WinStar Farm) to make a choice.” The $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles will be run on Saturday, March 30 with both Graydar and Bourbon Courage considered likely starters.
Miami Cat Finds Tough Spot in Sunday Allowance
Trainer Phil Gleaves, looking for the right race for the 4-year-old gelding Miami Cat to make his second start following a 3 ½ months layoff, has the son of Powerful Goer entered in Sunday’s sixth race optional/allowance at one mile on turf, although the race looks more like a graded stakes race than an allowance.
“I wanted a mile race and this fits well from a timing standpoint,” said Gleaves. “But I can’t say I expected to see the race come up this tough. We’ll go ahead and it should tell us a lot about where we stack up heading into the spring and summer.”
Gleaves bred Miami Cat and races him in partnership with Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 4-year-old Csaba, the star of the stable currently getting a break after finishing fifth last out in the Donn Handicap. The son of Kitten’s Joy had won four straight stakes race prior to the Donn, including the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes and Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) here earlier in the meet.
“Csaba’s doing fine and currently in the middle of a three week break on Circle S Farm near here,” reported Gleaves. “We decided it was a good time for a break before getting him ready for a spring and summer campaign.
Miami Cat finished a good fourth last out in a 1 1/16 miles allowance over the course on Feb. 2, between 2 ½ lengths by the winner in an even effort in his first start since a dull ninth-place try in the Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park in September. On his best last summer at Saratoga, he won the Equalize Stakes over Film Shot in late August.
Meanwhile, Miami Cat’s rivals in Sunday’s race include Waterford Stable’s 4-year-old Summer Front, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 5-year-old Big Blue Kitten and James Dinan and Phantom House Farm’s 9-year-old gelding Get Serious, all three Graded stakes winner on turf.
Summer Front is a a son of War Front purchased for $475,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-old sales and won his first three starts for trainer Christophe Clement, including the Dania Beach Stakes over the Gulfstream course early last year.
Summer Front went on to win the Hill Prince (G3) at Belmont Park and finished third in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park and Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont before a close-up sixth-place effort last out in the Hollywood Derby (G1) at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25.
Big Blue Kitten finished a strong third last out in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G3) on Jan. 12 with trouble in the race after an allowance victory over the course on Dec. 8. Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Kitten’s Joy won the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga as a 3-year-old and finished a good third in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) early last year.
Itsmyluckyday Breezes Toward Florida Derby
Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s 3-year-old Itsmyluckyday breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 Saturday morning at Calder for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. as he is kept on edge for his next start in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 30.
Itsmyluckyday was getting his second breeze since his stunning two-length victory over Starlight Racing, Mrs. Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Shanghai Bobby in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 26. Itsmyluckyday’s time was the fastest of 16 timed at the distance. The son of Lawyer Ron went a half-mile in 48 4/5 on Feb. 23.
Another prominent 3-year-old breezing Saturday morning was Joseph Bucci’s Honorable Dillon, who went a half-mile in 47 4/5 at Palm Meadows for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The roan/gray colt by Tapit won the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) here on Feb. 2 and is expected to make his first start around two turns in next Saturday’s $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.