Aug. 29, 2013
After living in the shadows of his Preakness Stakes-winning stablemate, Oxbow, despite having beaten him in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in March, Will Take Charge finally enjoyed his own time in the spotlight after winning the $1 million Travers Stakes over Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. The win may have shocked the fans, who let him go off at odds of 9-1, but it was exactly what his Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was expecting.
Lukas, who trains the colt for Willis Horton of Marshall, AR, had been telling everyone since the beginning of the year that Will Take Charge was just as talented, if not more so than Oxbow and all he needed was time for the colt to grow into 17-hand frame. Taller than most of his opponents, Will Take Charge has a long stride that he is just now beginning to figure out.
“I changed up a [few] things,” Lukas said. “I took a chance on an up-and-coming rider (Luis Saez). I thought my horse trained well, but these things are so tough. At the three-eighths pole, I thought we’d get a piece of it, but I didn’t know if we’d get up. He’s a little over 17 hands [tall] and just starting to find himself. This is a horse who’s going to get better. He’s getting his act together.”
Will Take Charge is one of three horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this spring, finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby, seventh to Oxbow in the Preakness, and 10th in the Belmont Stakes.
“It feels pretty good,” Lukas said of winning the Travers and the Preakness. “They were reminding me it’s been a long time between drinks, but when they come like this, they come double.”
The Travers was the first Grade 1 victory for Will Take Charge and carries on his strong family legacy. His sire was the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner turned successful stallion Unbridled’s Song, who died July 26 at age 20 and his dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, who was involved in one of Oaklawn’s most memorable races when she finished second to champion Azeri in the 2003 Apple Blossom Handicap after a stretch-long battle. His half-brother Take Charge Indy won the Grade 1 Florida Derby last year.
Lukas said he will now point Will Take Charge to either the Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 21 at Parx or Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Sept. 28. The ultimate goal is the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 2.