At one point down the Churchill Downs backstretch in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, Charge It put himself in seventh place. He had worked his way into a semblance of daylight in the free-for-all pack that is a 20-horse modern Derby.
But when jockey Luis Saez asked for more coming out of the far turn, there was no charge coming from Charge It. Horse after horse passed him in the stretch. He wound up 17th, 28 lengths behind winner Rich Strike.
That eye-opening experience two months removed, the Derby ex-pat cuts back in distance to a one-turn mile in Saturday’s Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. As the Tapit colt cuts back, he comes back from surgery to repair a displaced palate.
“I don’t think he got to show his true ability that day in the Kentucky Derby,” trainer Todd Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “He displaced a soft palate, which we did a minor surgical procedure on since then. I think we got that corrected, so hopefully he’ll come back to top form.”
Charge It drew mild Derby betting attention
Charge It was one of those wild cards who came into the Derby with cautious expectations — along with 16/1 odds. Those were based on his 8 1/2-length maiden-breaking victory at Gulfstream Park in February. They were fortified by his solid runner-up to White Abarrio in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Both races came with 93 Beyer Speed Figures, with the maiden-breaker coming at a mile.
That may be Charge It’s future destiny: bouncing between one-turn miles and 1 1/8 miles. Races like the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 30 at Saratoga, which is a likely future destination if the Dwyer goes well. With Tapit as his sire, Charge It has distance pedigree, Nine furlongs isn’t and shouldn’t be a problem.
He’s out of the Indian Charlie Mare I’ll Take Charge. She is the half-sister to three Grade 1 winners: Take Charge Indy, As Time Goes By and 2013 Travers Stakes winner and Champion 3-Year-Old Will Take Charge. The family tree also contains Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach and 2014 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi.
This is a starting point of sorts
As many of Charge It’s Derby cohorts return to starting gates, Pletcher is using the Dwyer as Charge It’s rebound point from his Derby and medical travails.
“We’re just looking for a place to get started, hopefully to set him up for some bigger stuff down the road,” Pletcher said. “If we’re running at Belmont in any race besides the Belmont Stakes, we have to go one turn, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem. He broke his maiden going a mile impressively.”