Going to the front out of the gate and staying there virtually every step of the way, Take Charge Indy took advantage of a speed-favoring track and won the Florida Derby on Saturday – beating heavily favored Union Rags, who managed to only finish third.
With three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel aboard, Take Charge Indy finished the 11/8 mile in 1:48.79. Longshot Reveron was second, beating Union Rags.
“The track was playing really good for us,” winning trainer Patrick Byrne said. “I told Calvin, ‘If you’re on the lead and they leave you alone, fine.’”
Now Take Charge Indy is heading to Churchill Downs.
“That’s why I showed up, baby,” Borel said.
Union Rags settled in fourth entering the first turn, the pack closely bunched behind Take Charge Indy. When jockey Julian Leparoux asked Union Rags for his move, he first tried going to the inside and then turning back toward the center of the track.
But by then, there was no catching Take Charge Indy, who returned $17.40, $9 and $3.60. Reveron paid $18.40 and $4, while Union Rags paid $2.10.
Union Rags reared up after his van ride to Gulfstream on Saturday, then had a shoe issue in the paddock just before heading onto the track. He was the consensus Kentucky Derby favorite entering the day, and trainer Michael Matz says he’s still heading there to start the Triple Crown season.
While Union Rags took a blow to his status as the consensus favorite heading into Triple Crown season, Matz still is hopeful he has a horse that can be at its best in Louisville.
“If he comes out well out of this race, we’ll be at the Derby,” Matz said.