Two Former Kentucky Derby Hopefuls Return!

El Padrino & Take Charge Indy Are Back!

The trials and tribulations of the 2012 three-year-old class have been lamented at length over the past spring and summer. What was a promising group of Derby hopefuls soon fell apart and instead of being a “Who’s Who” by the time the Travers Stakes rolled around, the division had become one of “Who’s Left?” Exciting thoroughbreds such as Bodemeister, Union Rags, and Hansen were all retired during the summer. Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another bowed out of competition before having a chance at winning the Triple Crown and another first class colt, Paynter, battled for his life due to illness. The stories range from unfortunate to tragic, but it’s always great to be able to turn our attention to more positive news. El Padrino and Take Charge Indy are two Kentucky Derby horses who were off the dirt for most of the season, but are making comebacks!

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s strapping colt El Padrino is one of those horses that you get excited about not only by just watching him, but by looking at his lineage. He is the son of Pulpit and his lineage includes A.P. Indy, Storm Cat, and Giant’s Causeway, as well as Seattle Slew. El Padrino got his owners, training staff, and racing fans excited when he won the Risen Star Stakes in February of 2012, finishing ahead of Mark Valeski. He only finished fourth, behind Take Charge Indy, Reveron, and Union Rags in his next outing, the Florida Derby, but his late charge signaled confidence that he could perform well in the longer Kentucky Derby. A great Derby finish didn’t pan out though as he got lost in the shuffle and never recovered, placing 13th. After the Derby, the training staff decided to give their colt a long rest and make a decision on his future later. In the summer El Padrino was back in training and it was decided that his career would continue. He returned to the track on December 19th at Gulfstream Park, where he finished second to Citrus Kid. The strong performance will almost assure that his comeback will continue in 2013.

Take Charge Indy went into the Kentucky Derby as a sleeper for trainer Patrick Byrne. He finished “in the money” in four of his six starts preceding the Derby, including a win in the Florida Derby which had fans and analysts buzzing about his potential. Something went terribly wrong at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby, as he finished 19th in the 20 horse field. It was discovered soon after that he had a bone chip in his ankle and would need treatment and plenty of rest before knowing if his career could resume. After rehabilitation and work outs, Byrne decided to test Take Charge Indy by entering him in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. He finished third, but showed promise and his next race was slated for Churchill Downs in the Clark Handicap. In the grade I race, he would face fan favorite Shackleford who was making the final appearance of his career. Shackleford went on to victory, and Take Charge Indy finished a strongly in second and will be returning to the track for his four-year-old season. He is being pointed towards the Grade I Donn Handicap in February.

With all the negative news that can swirl around injuries and illness in thoroughbred racing, it’s great when positivity emerges from it. El Padrino and Take Charge Indy are two colts who battled back from a tough campaign and now see a future. Good luck to both of these fine horses as they race into the New Year!

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