Noble Indy Takes Louisiana Derby
Son of Take Charge Indy latest classic prospect for WinStar, partners.
· By Alicia Wincze Hughes
Noble Indy (inside) fights off Lone Sailor to capture the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course
Last month, Noble Indy used his time at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots to show what a baby he still was, tantrums and all.
WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden called him "a real brat" in the paddock prior to the Feb. 17 Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford (G2), and when it came time for the son of Take Charge Indy to go through a hole after racing on the lead in his first two starts, he got a bit intimidated as others went on to take the accolades.
Noble Indy, b, 3/c
Take Charge Indy — Noble Maz, by Storm Boot
Owner: Repole Stable (Mike Repole) and WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt)
Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC (KY)
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Information provided by Equibase at time of entry.
Take Charge Indy stands at KRA Jeju Stud Farm.
KEESEP2016 • ($45,000 RNA) • Consignor: Denali Stud, agent.
He finished a solid third place in his graded debut, but, most important, he received an education. When he returned to the New Orleans track March 24 and had his mettle tested in the stretch of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), the bay colt showed how quickly he had learned his lessons and how much room for growth there still is over the next six weeks.
Noble Indy put the lengthy Fair Grounds stretch to good use Saturday when he battled back on the rail in the final furlong after being passed by Lone Sailor in the lane to edge that one by a neck and put 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) on his young résumé.
It takes guts to snatch a victory from what looked to be strong jaws of defeat, especially considering Noble Indy raced right on top of a pace that favored his late-running challengers. That he got keen with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez while rating second through fractions of :22.97 and :46.64, lost his lead after turning into the stretch, and still was able to find another gear says a mouthful about how far he has come for trainer Todd Pletcher in a short period.
"Todd has done a great job with him. He won his first two starts and came here and got a real education ... but he grew up today," said Walden of the colt WinStar Farm owns in partnership with Mike Repole. "He's still only run four times. He's bred for (the Kentucky Derby), and as we saw today, distance is not a problem."
What may be a happy problem for the WinStar team is a case of whiplash while tracking all their hopefuls on the Kentucky Derby trail. In addition to Noble Indy, Kenny Troutt's operation has partial ownership of Holy Bull Stakes (G2) winner Audible, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) victor Quip, and budding phenom Justify, with New York Central set to start in the March 25 Sunland Derby (G3).
"It's been a great day," grinned Walden, who also watched Good Samaritan—also owned by WinStar in partnership—win the New Orleans Handicap (G2) earlier on the Fair Grounds card.
Despite the presence of Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair— the 1-2 finishers in the Risen Star—and Southwest Stakes (G3) winner My Boy Jack in the 10-horse field, Noble Indy had the faith of the betting public, who made him the 5-2 favorite. Though he bumped the gate at the break, he moved well into the first turn as 141-1 longshot Marmello set the early pace.
With Bravazo to his outside in third, Noble Indy stalked in the two-path and kept begging Velazquez to let him do more. Velazquez complied, allowing the colt to range up and take the lead at the half-mile pole, opening up two lengths on the field as they reached three-quarters in 1:11.47.
"He had to fight the whole way," Velazquez said of his mount, who was racing with blinkers for the first time. "Going into the first turn, I had to use him to get position, then I grabbed him back in the middle of the turn. He got keen on the backstretch and ... at the half-mile pole, I put my hands down and tried to give him a nice break. I decided not to fight him anymore and let him run down the lane."
Velazquez said Noble Indy never saw Lone Sailor coming with his three-wide bid in the stretch, and for a handful of strides it looked like a storybook ending was on tap. Lone Sailor is campaigned by trainer Tom Amoss for G M B Racing, the stable owned by the late New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle. Tom Benson passed away March 15 and was laid to rest in New Orleans March 23.
"The best horse probably won today, I won't deny that. But our boy stepped up and ran a great race, and I'm happy for G M B," Amoss said. "I went running after work this morning, and a voice kept saying, 'Do you believe it can happen?' As a trainer ... I tried to ignore that, but now I'm going to answer that voice. They were right.
"I'm not going to get spiritual about this whole thing, but I really felt like Mr. Benson was with us today."
Though Noble Indy fought back to cover the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.28 over a fast track, Lone Sailor picked up 40 qualifying points, likely locking himself into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
My Boy Jack came with a sustained run down the middle of the track but leveled out and ended up third. Givemeaminit was fourth with Snapper Sinclair fifth. Bravazo came home eighth.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Noble Indy is out of the multiple stakes-winning Storm Boot mare Noble Maz. He debuted Dec. 3, winning by 8 3/4 lengths over seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, and he took an allowance optional claiming test going 1 1/16 miles over the same track in his season debut Jan. 11.
"He's still green," Velazquez said of Noble Indy. "But when he saw that other horse, he came back and fought."