Charge It sought redemption in Saturday’s $250,000 Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park following a dismal 17th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and the gray colt came through spectacularly, drawing off to a 23-length decision.
Always well-respected, Charge It earned his first stakes victory in his fifth career outing, and the regally-bred son of Tapit appears ready to compete against the upper echelon of the division.
The $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 27 will be a major target.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Charge It was making only his fifth career start for owner/breeder Whisper Hill Farm (Mandy Pope), and John Velazquez picked up the mount.
“He felt great,” Velazquez said. “I tried to do what was best for him and tried to get a position that I thought he was going to do it. I had to take the position (approaching the turn) because I knew the horse on the lead wasn’t going to stay there forever. I didn’t want him to put me behind horses that aren’t going to last. So, I got into position and then it was easy.”
Charge It left the starting gate as the 3-5 favorite among six rivals, stalking the pace in second before powering his way to the lead on the far turn, and he blew the doors off the competition in the stretch, completing the one-turn mile distance in a snappy 1:34.67.
“We drew the one-hole again and needed to come away and establish some position,” Pletcher said. “We felt like that’s where we would be and he would work his way into the clear, and it was pretty much game over from there.”
Pletcher said Charge It underwent a minor surgical procedure for a displaced palate, and it made a big difference.
“We always had a lot of confidence in this horse’s ability,” Pletcher said. “We tried to correct the problem from the Derby (displaced palate), which we think we successfully did. Today, we saw the talent level that we’d been seeing from him.”
A close second when making his debut in January, Charge It graduated the second time out by an eye-catching 8 1/2-length margin at Gulfstream in mid-February. However, his immaturity showed when finishing second in the Florida Derby (G1) next out, racing in spots before repeatedly lugging in through the stretch. He gave way after being steadied in the early stages of the Kentucky Derby.
Runninsonofagun rallied for second in the Dwyer, a head better than Fluid Situation in third. Unbridled Bomber and No Sabe Nada came next under the wire, and Nabokov was eased.
Charge It is first stakes winner out of the Indian Charlie mare I’ll Take Charge, a daughter of Broodmare of the Year and multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Take Charge It. She’s a half-sister to champion and sire Will Take Charge, Grade 1 winner and sire Take Charge Indy, and Grade 1-winning filly As Time Goes By. This is also the immediate female family of champion Take Charge Brandi and multiple Grade 1 scorer Omaha Beach.
Pletcher said the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga will be under consideration, or Charge It could train up to the Travers.