June 8, 2023

Charge It breezes home in Gulfstream Park comeback

Charge It was never asked a question in his return at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

After his 23-length conquest of the Dwyer (G3) last summer, Charge It appeared poised for a stellar second half of 2022. An unfortunate foot problem sidelined him for the rest of the season, but the Todd Pletcher trainee’s hopes were only postponed, not ended. Finally launching his comeback at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, Charge It strolled home under a hand ride by Luis Saez.

The Whisper Hill Farm homebred was far and away the class of the field in the 1 1/16-mile allowance, where he accordingly went off as the 1-5 favorite. Charge It never gave his backers a moment’s concern. The gray broke in good order and set up shop just off the busy pace, covering extra ground but avoiding traffic.

Super Curioso, Laughing Boy, and Carmichael all sped forward, but Carmichael soon backed out of his spot between them. Super Curioso’s head was in front of Laughing Boy through an opening quarter in :22.63 on the good track. Down the backstretch, though, Super Curioso floated wide, and Laughing Boy forged clear through the half in :45.99.

Saez pointed Charge It to the seam opened by Super Curioso, and the favorite began to improve position on the bridle. Laughing Boy was spent by the far turn, leaving Charge It to open up easily passing six furlongs in 1:10.99.

Vittorio rallied to keep the margin modest, but the 15-shot didn’t pose a threat. Charge It remained very much in hand for Saez, who gave him a soft re-introduction to the game. Gliding across the wire with 1 1/2 lengths to spare, Charge It clocked 1:41.96.

Clapton, the 5.70-1 second choice, closed for third. There was a nine-length gap back to Tartufo, trailed by the early pace factors Laughing Boy, Carmichael, and Super Curioso.

“The trip was great,” said Saez, who was scoring his fourth win on the card. “He’s a pretty fast horse. The key with him was to try to make him relax behind horses and he did great. He laid off and did it perfect.

“We came to the half-mile pole, and I had so much horse. I just let him go a little early so he can breathe and be all right, and at the top of the stretch I just came with him and didn’t really do anything. I didn’t let him go because we wanted to save something. He felt very good. He’s doing unbelievable. He came back great.”

“You never take anything for granted in this game,” Pletcher said. “The horse was training super. We felt like we had him ready off the layoff. He was stalking some pretty nice fractions and did it nicely. The horse that finished second (Vittorio) had some pretty good form too. It was what we were hoping to see.”

Bred on the same cross as retired Horse of the Year Flightline, as a son of Tapit and an Indian Charlie mare, Charge It will try to succeed him in the older male division. He doesn’t have that phenom’s unbeaten cachet, with a mark of 6-3-2-0, $411,700, but he made it to the races early enough for the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) trail.

A close second in his unveiling at Gulfstream last winter, Charge It romped in his next venture, and finished a very green, if encouraging, runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1). The Kentucky Derby was a bridge too far at that stage, as he wound up a troubled 17th. The July 2 Dwyer shaped up as a logical rebound spot, and Charge It used it to announce himself as a prime player in the division. But his ambitions for the Travers (G1), Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and even the Cigar Mile (G1) all faded once his foot issue did not go away.

“It was frustrating because it was looking like he was putting it all together,” Pletcher told Gulfstream publicity Saturday, “but it was one of those things that he needed some time because he grabbed a quarter in the Dwyer, and we just couldn’t get it healed up to continue racing and training. Hopefully, the time off has done him well and he has a big year ahead of him.”

Charge It’s dam, I’ll Take Charge, is out of $2.4 million-earner and Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady. Thus I’ll Take Charge is a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge, Grade 1 winners Take Charge Indy and As Time Goes By, and Charming, the dam of champion Take Charge Brandi as well as multiple Grade 1 star Omaha Beach.

Grade 1 company is beckoning for Charge It, whose itinerary includes two of New York’s prestigious events.

“Our big goals for the summer are the Met Mile (G1) and the Whitney (G1),” Pletcher said. “We have to figure out what we’re going to do between now and the (June 10) Met Mile.”