Haskin's Derby Trail: Tami and Indy - A Love Story

One of the great storylines of this year’s Derby trail is the ongoing love affair between horsewoman Tami Bobo and her “pet” Take Charge Indy, upset winner of the Florida Derby.

The affection Bobo has for the son of A.P. Indy can be heard in her voice, which one minute is alive with a youthful exuberance when reminiscing about her days with the colt at her farm in Ocala and the next minute quavers with emotion as she attempts to describe what it was like watching him win the Florida Derby. Trying to put those emotions into words brought her to tears.

Take Charge Indy’s story began at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale, when he stepped into the ring as part of the consignment of Eaton Sales, who bred the colt.

The colt’s pedigree spelled money, being by A.P. Indy, out of multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady, a two-time winner of the Spinster Stakes and earner of more than $2.4 million.

But it was feared the colt was not going to bring anything near what he was worth due to a couple of minor physical issues.

“He was a great big, strong-bodied, athletic colt,” said Eaton Sales’ Reiley McDonald. “He just had some minor conformational flaws that put people off, and when you’re at a small selected sale as are the first couple of days at Keeneland, a lot of buyers will walk right past a horse if they see any flaws. I think a lot of buyers just marked him off their list. He was a little upright in his pasterns and his knees were a little bit close, and he had a very short step behind. A lot of buyers like to see a big loopy overstep, and he didn’t overstep at all, so I think it put some people off.”

McDonald knew he was going to have trouble selling the colt for his true value, so he wasn’t exactly shocked when he failed to meet his reserve at $80,000. He now had to find a willing buyer who would overlook the colt’s flaws and approached Bobo and Carl Bowling, partners in the fledgling company Secure Investments.

Bobo had just come over to Thoroughbreds from Quarter-Horse show horses that year, teaming up with Bowling, a longtime Thoroughbred horseman, purchasing yearlings and then pinhooking them as 2-year-olds.

“I approached Tami and Carl in the back walking ring and told them I have a horse who fell through the cracks and needs to be bought,” McDonald recalled. “They went down to see him and fell in love with him and we did the deal right there at the sale.”

Said Bobo, “Carl and I were looking at horses when Reiley came up to us and said, ‘I have one that I think you guys would like, and I don’t understand why I don’t have much action on him. You should probably come look at him. I immediately fell in love with the colt. He was long in his pasterns and straight in the front and kind of a gangly colt. But I felt the imperfections he had were the type he could grow through. All in all, as far him not being 100 percent, in my opinion no horse has perfect conformation. You find the imperfections and if you can live with them, a lot of horses overcome a lot of things. I come from a Quarter-Horse show horse background and I’ve been in the horse business my entire life; I was raised around horses. The first year I actually trained and broke Thoroughbreds on my own was in 2010, which was my year with Indy.

“I’m very Quarter-Horse minded when it comes to working with young horses. We break our horses out in the field and we gallop them out in the field. Our horses are never kept in stalls when we first get them. We break them and leave them out and let them develop. A lot of that played a big role in Indy being able to develop the way he needed to. The way he was made, if you kept him in a stall and just galloped him and broke him that way I don’t think Indy would be where he is today.”

For Bobo, it was love at first sight. Their relationship at the farm went beyond the typical rapport between trainer and horse and beyond the normal breaking procedure. She and the colt became inseparable, and she knew it was going to be difficult parting with him and finding a worthy owner.

“From the first day I saw him, everyone will tell you I fell in love with him,” Bobo said. “Carl asked me who was my favorite, and I told him it was Indy, from day one. I said this is the kind of horse if you stay out of his way he’s just going to get better. A great horse is a great horse and all a trainer can do is keep them sound and keep them going and give them the best shot you can. You just need to maintain them and keep them happy. Because we’re not a large volume facility we do small numbers and high quality and try to cater to the high end of the industry. We try to sell boutique style horses.

“Indy was my barnyard pet. I would get on him in the afternoons and take him to the track and ride him with a just a halter and a lead rope. He just loved to train and I would gallop him two miles every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, just because that’s what he mentally needed. I didn’t overtrain him and I didn’t undertrain him; I just let him tell me what we needed to do and how far we needed to go.”

As time went on, Bobo and Indy grew closer to each other.

“Eventually, he learned how to say ‘yes’ for his carrots and he learned how to say ‘no,’” Bobo said. “And he knew his name. Even to this day, and (trainer) Pat Byrne can tell you, I can walk into his shedrow and call out ‘Indy,’ and he’ll nicker to me; he knows who I am. He’s just very attentive to me, and I think it’s because of the amount of time I spent with him. When we went out in the afternoons, it was as if he were being trail-ridden, riding bareback with just a halter and lead rope. There was no bucking, lunging, or leaping. I think those fundamentals we teach stay with them and teach them to be strong and confident and not be afraid.

“I’ve learned a great deal from Carl. I’ve been blessed in the short time I’ve been in the Thoroughbred business, and I owe so much to the unsung heroes, Enrique Martinez and Everton Miles, who both helped break Indy. And Enrique was his regular rider. Carl and I buy yearlings and pinhook them as 2-year-olds, and if it wasn’t for Carl being there for me and answering all my questions I wouldn’t be where I am today in the Thoroughbred business.”

Finally, it was time for the 2-year-old sale, but by then, Bobo had become too attached to the colt.

“I was so in love with Indy I didn’t want to sell him,” she said. “We wanted to keep him and run him ourselves. Pat Byrne, being a longtime friend and customer of Carl’s, called and wanted to come and look at some horses. He came to the barn with Chuck Sandford and they saw how heartfelt I was when it came to Indy and the strong feelings I had for him. I told them it was going to take a special person to own a part of this horse, and that Carl and I weren’t going to sell this horse at a sale; we’re just going to sell a portion of him. Chuck came to the barn and absolutely fell head over heels for him. From a buyer’s perspective I think he was already in love with the pedigree, but when Chuck saw how personable he was and the tricks he would do in the barn, and how he’d just stand there when you opened his stall door, he fell in love with him, just as I did. He saw how attentive he was to me and the faces he’d make when you scratched him. I think Chuck just felt a connection to Indy, and, as an owner, there was a comforting feeling having a horse with such a pedigree that he could walk up to and pet. So I really think Indy sold himself to Chuck. Carl and I both knew at that moment this was who we needed to sell Indy too, because he would impact Chuck and (his wife) Maribeth’s lives as greatly as he did ours.

“We only sold 50 percent and kept the other half in order to stay involved with Indy. We’ve since made other deals and arrangements and just recently sold our last portion of Indy, so Chuck and Maribeth now own all of him. This is what we do. We cater to a specialty market and only sell select horses. We follow their careers, and hopefully, if they end up in the right hands, we always remain a part of their lives.”

Bobo regrets that she was unable to make it to Gulfstream for the Florida Derby, but there is nothing that will keep her from attending the Kentucky Derby. Watching the Florida Derby on TV was enough of an emotional experience to last her a lifetime.

“I get very emotional watching Indy run and staying so connected to him, and it takes your breath away to see a horse do what he did (in the Florida Derby) who is so special to me and who I believed in from day one,” she said. “He gave me 110 percent every time we breezed him or galloped him. When he’s right his tail goes straight out behind him. I can always tell looking at his tail when he’s 100 percent on and when he’s not. That tail goes out behind him and he’s absolutely effortless, just as he was in the Florida Derby. He’s just amazing; he truly is. I have a 21-year-old daughter, and you love your kids, but that horse just owns a part of me.”

42 Comments

Leave a Comment:

El Kabong

This guy is a fun horse to watch and It's great to know the story behind him. This is the derby gold I was thanking you for the other day. Thanks again Steve.

I wish  Mr. Byrne and Calvin all the racing luck they need to be in that charge to the wire.  

03 Apr 2012 11:53 AM
The Deacon

Great feel good story Steve, no one writes like you do. I feel good for Byrne as well, he deserves some good fortune.

Maybe Take Charge Indy can do what his pop couldn't. This Derby is looking more wide open every day..........

03 Apr 2012 12:33 PM
Deltalady

What you do best, Steve....giving us the "backstory".  So happy you are picking up on some of the stories about the horses this year. Someone else's love of this horse makes me love him, too, and he will certainly be among my few favorites for the Derby. Thanks so much for the heart you put into your work.  

03 Apr 2012 1:22 PM
DanC

Well, I'm hoping this is finally the AP Indy to win the KD!

03 Apr 2012 1:24 PM
sehgator

Great article. Congrats to Tami and Carl for treating this special horse as the unique character that he is. "Indy" now has one more fan to cheer him on in the Derby!

03 Apr 2012 2:10 PM
Terry M.

Wonderful story! People like Tami who truly love and understand horses help make up for those who do not. I just wish there were more like her.

03 Apr 2012 3:39 PM
Sam Santschi

"I didn't overtrain him and I didn't undertrain him..."  Interestingly, TCI did only what was necessary on Saturday as well.  Got an easy lead and did nothing more. Liking this guy more now. Great story, Steve.

03 Apr 2012 4:40 PM
dms

I thought Take Charge Indy was going to win the Tampa Bay Derby before his connections changed their gameplan, so I'm not surprised that he won the Florida derby. He's got the best pedigree of any Derby contender. Hard to believe he couldn't meet an 80k reserve as a yearling. His conformation flaws at that time must have been pretty severe. Hats off to all who gave him his early training. 'Indy' probably wouldn't be where he is today without Tami and all..

03 Apr 2012 6:32 PM
Slew

Beautiful people in love with a beautiful colt.  Thank you Steve, for another love song, and a colt worthy of it.  Only you can bring me to tears with the simple and pure joy of an interaction of hearts.  And some people think it's only about handicapping.  They miss too much, and you miss nothing.

03 Apr 2012 7:04 PM
ksweatman9

I believe Take Charge Indy's odds of winning the Derby went up considerably when Borel accepted the mount. I wish him well, but my heart belongs to Hansen. Sadly, no one seems to have much faith in him, even Hansen's jockey isn't sure he'll take the Derby mount. I hope the beautiful colt wins the roses to prove everyone wrong.

03 Apr 2012 7:15 PM
ChuckSandford

Steve I've read alot of your articles over the years.  I've agreed with you on some and disagreed with you on one in particular!  This article was fantastic this is the type of story people want to read about and the sport so badly needs.  Why can't we share all the good things that are going on in our industry.  You caught this special lady feelings for TCI beautifully!  Maribeth and I are blessed to have this really special animal.  You caught Tami emotions for this horse perfectly and they are real!  You mentioned she started in quarterhorses and in 2010 switched to TB.  Finding Indy out of 4000 horses selling at that sale is like finding a needle in a haystack! In her first group of horses purchased she already has a Grp 1 winner and a Kentucky Derby starter.  What will she do next!  Nice going Tami and a really special Thank You from Maribeth and myself!!

03 Apr 2012 7:48 PM
Kristen

Great article Steve.  I always look for the "stories" behind the racehorses if there are any.  It makes it so much more special if there is a history or story and ths is truly a great one.  A raise Quarter horses just for pleasure and my favorite is my Palamino QH Indy whom I named after AP Indy, him being my favorite stallion after Storm Cat.  Now I know both are pensioned but I want AP Indy to sire the KD winner so bad.  I'm not going to say I think Take Charge Indy will win but I think he has as good a chance as anybody.  I hope he does win and I will bet him to win.  Paul Loduca, I hope you eat your words.  Tod Schrupp take that 60 to 1 odds!!  (TVG viewers know what I'm talking about) And good for Matt Coruthers for always sticking with TCI and Steve also.  You guys rock.  Go TCI.  I hope you stay healthy and give it a great go and make your grandaddy Secretariat proud.

03 Apr 2012 8:03 PM
Nip Nip

The kind of story we like to hear, Steve; I wish we could hear it all the time.

03 Apr 2012 8:19 PM
old cowboy

Very touching story. Nice to read of people who care for their horses and want to produce and offer top quality. Coming from cattle ranching and Quarter horse Thoroughbred cross mounts I enjoyed this woman;s training ways. She might put them to work them more, like working calves.

Off this subject can you race horse people tell me do runners run faster on turf than dirt. If not how is it Howe Great is not mentioned more. Is it because his graded monies so low. Luck to all.

03 Apr 2012 8:24 PM
Doodge

I love stories like this.  I met A.P. Indy once and fell in love with him, and glad to have a new Indy to root for.  I'm so grateful for people like Tami in this business who truly care about the horses.  

03 Apr 2012 8:52 PM
Bigtex

Steve, this story is why I love the horses, horse racing, and the people who REALLY love and care for them!

I'm sure, percentage wise, those who play the "conformation" card, are right more times than not.  However, it does speak volumes about those who are really STUDYING the horse - conformation, pedigree, etc., yes, but his mind, his personality, projecting his future development the way Tami, et. al., did.

These types of relationships are just very special.  Your story brought me to tears.

03 Apr 2012 10:01 PM
Mike from Michigan

I have liked this horse since I first saw him race in the Arlington Futurity last year.  Funny how those initials work too....TCI=Take Charge Indy.  TCI=Tami Carl Indy.  Good luck Indy in the Derby, I hope you take charge at Churchill.

03 Apr 2012 10:29 PM
Zen4Zen

What a lovely story; thanks, Steve!

04 Apr 2012 5:49 AM
Kinga Kowalczyk

ksweatman9: I'm totally with you! I have true faith in Hansen's ability and I too believe that he will win the run for the roses! GO HANSEN!

04 Apr 2012 7:50 AM
Tiz Herself

Heartwarming story! I like Take Charge Indy more and more. Had him on my virtual stable watch early on, because he was an A.P. Indy kid out of Take Charge Lady. Didn't know anything regarding his connections - that's my favorite part of this sport is the stories and the connection that the people who work day in and day out with these horses have.

Does anyone know where or if the colt Basmati is Triple Crown nominated? This horse has $200k+ to his credit and one that haven't seen too much on lately. Last update can find of him was in December last year. Basmati is a son of Borrego and out of the Mountain Cat mare Abruzzi Ridge. Was second to Sabercat in the Delta Jackpot. Liked him very much.

04 Apr 2012 9:11 AM
JR

Steve, when you write your stories, you have the unique ability to transform your words into a pictorial writing. Your words evoke emotions.

I wish Chuck and Maribeth Sandford the very best with their colt. I know Tami will be waiting with her bag of carrots.

Kind Regards,

JR

04 Apr 2012 9:41 AM
Melissa P

Having been a small-time breeder/owner, I know how hard it is to sell any part of the horses we come to love. I never had a horse like Indy, but loved them all. Hey, Mike in Michigan, I'm in Michigan now, too. You missed one possible acronym for TCI = Triple Crown Imminent!

04 Apr 2012 10:06 AM
Slew

Old Cowboy: A lot of times, the dirt is faster...but I've also seen times on turf that have been faster than the dirt surface on particular days.  I think a lot depends on how the tracks are maintained.

Howe Great does not yet have the $$ necessary to get into the gate.  But because he is the grandson of Sunday Silence, I'm smitten with him also, and he runs beautifully.

KSweatman9: I'm with you on Hansen, and I'm still thinking TC, not just Derby.

04 Apr 2012 11:17 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone for your comments. It's so reassuring when you come across stories like this, especially on the Derby trail when more people will follow them.

04 Apr 2012 11:26 AM
Karen in Texas

Lovely story, Steve. I love the reminders that demonstrate not all connections think of racing as only a business.

04 Apr 2012 12:50 PM
Mary Zinke

Tiz Herself, At the end of January it was reported that Basmati would be out for a few months with an ankle injury.

Happy Birthday, Mr.Haskin.

04 Apr 2012 12:58 PM
ChevalMugs

Thanks for the story, I'll be cheering for Take Charge Indy!  He sounds (and runs) just like his Mama :)  I had the pleasure of working with Take Charge Lady when she was a 2yo.  She was just the sweetest filly!  I spent any spare moment I had with her, just hanging out in her stall, petting and talking to her.  She loved people and attention, and loved to be loved on.  I sure wish I knew where she ended up, cause I'd love to be able to visit her!

04 Apr 2012 2:47 PM
Mary Zinke

ChevalMugs, Eaton is also the breeder of her 2012 foal, so you might try contacting Eaton sales.

04 Apr 2012 3:52 PM
predict

Thankyou, Steve, for this marvelous behind the scenes, human interest story. It is this type of writing that has made you my favorite author and expert on horses and racing. It really made me think about how horses are typically trained and made me wonder if the industry doesn't have it all wrong. I especially loved the comment about the horse's tail telling her when things were right with him, as I have learned to tell the same with my pet cat, her tail will always let me know if she's feeling healthy or ill. Now I don't think I dare not include Indy on Derby day.

04 Apr 2012 7:48 PM
Anita Xanax

Remember, Seattle Slew had a crooked left fore...

04 Apr 2012 10:05 PM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,

This story is one for the ages.  I really hope you'll do a follow up.  Keep us posted on Take Charge Indy.  Thank you for bringing this story to words.  

I haven't commented on Bloodhorse or any other Thoroughbred racing sites lately.  The breakdowns and pile-ups, the injuries to 3-year old colts! Algorithims, Consortium, Springfield Farm, Out of Bounds, etc. is the thing about racing that pushes me away.

The emotion Tami Bobo describes, and the courage and beauty of the Thoroughbred is what draws me back over and over.  I kind of like Midnight Transfer myself.

05 Apr 2012 10:24 AM
Dawn in MN

P.S. It goes without saying, any horse with a good dose of Secretariat has an automatic fan in me.

05 Apr 2012 10:30 AM
Kristen

Kind of off the story but not off the sire.  Take Control by AP Indy is back in training as a 5 year old.  Being the first foal out of champ Azeri alot was expected of him.  He's with Bob Baffert and is being pointed for his first race at the end of June.  I've seen alot of people in these blogs asking about him including me.  Has had shin problems like his dam and several surgeries later he is getting ready for a return to the races after winning his only start.  Stay healthy TC and you to Bob.  We would like to see what TC can do with this royal breeding.  We already know what Bob can do.  Good luck to both.

05 Apr 2012 5:41 PM
Stellar Jayne

As always a heartwarming human/equine story.  Take Charge Indy has the breeding to get the Derby - he carries double doses of Secretariat - on the dam and sire sides.  He seems to be intelligent and a character like his grand parent also.  

Your story restores my faith after reading the NY Times piece about racing people in NM and PA.  While it wasn't a perfect investigation it does reveal how racing still needs to improve its attitude and care of the horses.

Last, but not least - HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVE!

05 Apr 2012 8:41 PM
Mike from Michigan

Ok, let's keep it going.

TCI= To Churchill Indy

TCI= This Champion Indy

TCI= Totally Cool Indy

TCI= Triple Crown Indy

TCI= Together Calvin Indy

Let's hear some more Indy fans....

06 Apr 2012 7:02 AM
scrabble

I am a sucker for a story. Always glad to get the back info because I think there are lots of stories to tell, and lots of great ones.  Best of luck to this colt.  He has a great jockey, now all must pray for the draw.

06 Apr 2012 1:25 PM
maryann727

Always enjoy your back story love stories, Mr. Haskin.  This one is a winner.  Thank you.

07 Apr 2012 9:54 AM
Brenda Rizzo

Tami is a Wonderful Person. And she knows her horses. I have seen how she puts her alland pride into her horses. Her father Richard Dellatore has been a friend on mine for many years.So Tami grew up with the love for horses. The Special care she had for Take Charge Indy. And when a horse feels Special they will interact with you on a whole nother level. The love that Tami had to offer TCI.That makes for a sure win.But not just TCI she cared for all of her horses with with Pride. And Tami knows her stuff. Brillant Woman.Tami has the eye for greatness.And a wonderful person thru and thru.I hope Take Charge Indy takes the Triple Crown.I will be beating on TCI not a doubt in my mind. That would just show the showmanship, training,love and sweat that she put into her horses. Along with Pride.I had helped Tami with Marketing for her Business www.Ocalahorse.com for a short time. Do to the distant Ocala was to far for me to go on with the journey of the Business. But Tami knows her stuff and know what she wants.Skies are the limit for Tami. And anyone should be proud to have Tami Bobo in your corner.May Indy take it all the way to the Triple!! And I know you will be hearing more about accomplishments of Tami Bobo. Our love goes out to Tami Bobo and her dad Richard Dellatore. Wonderful family.Full of love. And she take pride in there horses as her Dad does too. Love you! Brenda Rizzo and Family

07 Apr 2012 10:00 AM
JON R

Loved your and Shulmen's discussion of horse racing...and other sports reagarding injuries and press coverate...Except in the other sports, it's human beings who have a choice as to whether they want to play or are well enough to participate in the game/sport.  Horses can't do that.  They have no choice. They have no say in the matter.  Just a thought...That's why the general public/media get more worked up when they see horses go down and have to be euthanized and why horse racing is covered in a negative manner when it does happen.  

07 Apr 2012 4:57 PM
JON R

Well I love Take Charge Indy 'cause he has a good dose of Seattle Slew, including his coloration and his front-running style of racing. He's not just Secretariat's grandkid you know!

08 Apr 2012 5:38 PM
yani

on going down: when the helpless and unable to choose go down, that is when it hurts the most.  and the more people appreciate horses for their true value (not just their racing value), the more it hurts.  That said I loved the fact that you told this wonderful story.

11 Apr 2012 2:52 PM
RachelAlex

Steve--what a great story.  I am a Hansen fan, but after reading this, I will definitely be following this sweet guy.  Plus it's good to see Calvin catch a break since I haven't heard much of him since 2009.  

I always look forward to your stories--you record the human/horse interest that is sadly lacking from most other racing media.

12 Apr 2012 11:57 AM

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