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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Florida Derby Runners in Good Shape Sunday


Patrick Byrne said Take Charge Indy came out of his win of the Florida Derby in good shape, as did connections of the other top finishers.

"You know, the racetrack was in great shape and there was no secret how the racetrack was playing. My horse has tactical speed and he’s fast,” Byrne said. “I wouldn’t call it a souped-up track. Horses were running on or close to the lead. My horse can be close or taken back. It worked out fine.”

Trainer Michael Matz was forced to delve a little deeper, but the reason for Union Rags’ third-place finish seemed fairly obvious.

“I think he ran his race, I just think they went slow the first part and there wasn’t much we could do about it. The good part is I hope that Julien learned about the horse a little bit more. When they did go that slow, I think he would have tried to press the pace, but he was stuck in that trap and couldn’t get out of there,” Matz said. “He knows he’s on a horse that people are going to try to get him beat, and that’s what happened. The good thing about it is Julien will put himself in a better position where he won’t let that happen again.

“I’m sure he got a lot of experience out of the race and hopefully Julien learned more about him too,” said Matz. “I’m sure Julien is harder on himself than everyone else is, and that he should have got him running a little bit more at the beginning knowing that speed was holding up,” Matz said. “Once Javier (Castellano on El Padrino) got that position (boxing in Union Rags), Javier was more interested in beating Union Rags than the other horses.”

Matz reported that Union Rags was acting frisky when turned out in a paddock at Palm Meadows Training Center early Sunday morning.

“Obviously, I think he only ran the last quarter of a mile, so hopefully it wasn’t a tough race on him. Maybe the good part of it is that he didn’t run a hard race going into the Derby,” said Matz, who saddled Barbaro for victories in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby in 2006. “But it was just disappointing because I thought he was the best horse going in.”

Matz hasn’t firmed up plans for shipping to Kentucky for his quest to saddle his second Kentucky Derby winner.

“We’re going to be here for at least two weeks, then after that we’re going to make the decision whether we go up to Keeneland, Churchill or stay here,”. Those are three options and a lot depends on how the weather is. We’ll play it by ear.”

Byrne said he has firmed up plans for Take Charge Indy, who captured his first graded-stakes victory in the Florida Derby.

“We’ll ship to Kentucky in 10 days,” Byrne said. “We’re going to Churchill Downs and back off for a couple of weeks and freshen him up. We’ll give him a couple of half miles run.”

Byrne said Calvin Borel, who has ridden three Kentucky Derby winners, has the return mount aboard Take Charge Indy in the Run for the Roses.

“Calvin rides Churchill so well. He’s a smart, heads-up rider. He’s a big-money rider, everyone knows that,” Byrne said. “He suits the colt well.”

Trainer Augustin Bezara said Reveron would be pointed toward the Kentucky Derby, while Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that El Padrino came out of his disappointing fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby “really well.”

--Edited Gulfstream Park release

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