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Zipse At The Track

Where does Will Take Charge fit in with the best Lukas 3-year-olds?

Will Take Charge Clark 615 X 400
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography


When the D. Wayne Lukas trained Will Take Charge collects the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top Three-year-old Male of 2013, in a few weeks, it will mark only the third time that the 78-year-old former basketball coach will see one of his runners honored as such. It a surprisingly low number for a trainer that once won six consecutive Triple Crown races during a three year span. Don’t cry for Lukas too much, though. He has won 14 American classics, and has trained countless good three-year-olds. Lest we forget, Lukas also conditioned several champion fillies, such as Winning Colors and Serena’s Song, who were anything but shy when it came to challenging the boys in many of the most important sophomore races out there. It all got me thinking about where Will Take Charge might fit in with the best Lukas runners that competed in the Triple Crown.

It was no easy task, but here are my rankings of 40 of the most recognizable horses that the Hall of Fame trainer ran in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, or Belmont, and in several cases, all three. My basis for ranking them was on their overall racing career with a blending of excellence and accomplishments. Obviously, Will Take Charge can move even further up this list with a big four-year-old season. Enjoy and please don’t be shy about letting me know where you think I may have gone astray...


1. Thunder Gulch 16-9-2-2

2. Winning Colors 19-8-3-1

3. Serena’s Song 38-18-11-3

*4. Gulch 32-13-8-4

5. Tabasco Cat 18-8-3-2

6. Charismatic 17-5-2-4

7. Will Take Charge 15-6-3-0

8. Codex 15-6-2-1

9. Timber Country 12-5-1-4

10. Life’s Magic 32-8-11-6

11. Tank’s Prospect 14-5-2-2

12. Grindstone 6-3-2-0

13. Althea 15-8-4-0

14. Cat Thief 30-4-9-8

15. On the Line 37-14-7-2

16. Oxbow 13-3-2-1

17. Corporate Report 10-3-5-0

18. Honour and Glory 17-6-5-2

19. Muttering 30-7-4-2

20. Editor’s Note 31-6-4-3

21. Capote 10-3-0-1

22. Badger Land 14-5-2-0

23. Dance Floor 16-4-4-2

24. Cape Town 12-5-1-1

25. High Yield 14-4-4-3

26. Marfa 15-3-4-1

27. Houston 11-5-1-0

28. Proud Citizen 16-3-2-1

29. Exchange Rate 15-6-2-2

30. Shy Tom 36-10-5-3

31. Commendable 12-2-1-1

32. Optimizer 28-5-4-3

33. Prince of Thieves 12-2-2-1

34. Scrimshaw 13-4-0-2

35. Dublin 11-2-1-2

36. Partez 18-4-3-3

37. Union City 11-2-5-0

38. Al Sabin 38-5-6-5

39. Flying Private 20-2-6-1

40. Titletown Five 10-1-3-1

* - Thanks to Chris Miskell for reminding me that Lukas did not train Gulch until after the Triple Crown.  


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Older Comments about Where does Will Take Charge fit in with the best Lukas 3-year-olds?...

If WTC stays healthy, he will win the Classic next year.
better than Landaluce and Lady's Secret? That would be an accomplishment
I think this year he'll prove to be the best horse he's ever had.
HORSES make trainers not the other way around
great quote by Woody years ago: ANY good horse has three strong races in him and then they need a little layoff
Off hand I know of about 10 to 12 that could have lasted longer but for D. Wayne's overtraining them and running them into ground
Hey D. Wayne doesn't DESERVE the emotional energy to create a hateful feeling. He is an amoral fool. One to LAUGH at while the pitiful horses are used up for his ego.
I loved Tank's Prospect. I realize I'm opening the door for all the Lukas-haters here, but I sure wish Big Tank's career would've lasted longer.
Thunder Gulch one of the most underrated champions
Winning Colors should be at the top, followed by Will Take Charge, both ran against better competition, especially the filly Winning Colors. That's not even mentioning the fact that her winning the Kentucky Derby over Forty Niner drove Woody Stephens nuts enough to send Forty Niner on a suicide run in the Preakness that killed any chance the filly had in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. She may not have won considering she faced Risen Star in the latter two in any case, but who really knows considering she beat him once in the KD.
gave UP on him? That clown would try to get blood from a stone...If he did not come back you can damn well bet it was NOT because of D. Wayne's input....Cat Thief was extremely distance limited but got an ALONE on the lead pace in that classic
I must have bet on Cat Thief every time I saw him run, until he won the Classic. It still makes me mad I gave up on him just before his biggest win and at a great price too.
Doing well in the Triple requires EARLY MATURITY..A single equipmetn change would not to that...Then there is all the Luck you must have.
Will Take Charge might have won the Triple a Crown, if the blinkers had come. Off three
It's a good list based on the criteria given, Brian.
Then at Saratoga when EVERYONE but the clown realized it, the poor thing bolted on the trun emphatically telling all "I need a rest." Clown MUST have those capped teeth in the news as often as possible
so many of the "breakdown" Kings two year olds either petered out at three or broke down, it is hard to find any long lasting memories of them. He inheirired mos to his runners who were older
  • https://www.facebook.com/chrismiskell · You can't really knock him for the fact that a lot of his top juveniles didn't train on at three. The Seventies spoiled us and raised our expectations that top juveniles regularly progressed as they moved into their sophomore season. The same goes for his Triple Crown trail heroes. Look how many horses who win Triple Crown preps are never heard from after the Derby. It has always been that way. He just had more of them because he had so many horses running in preps all over the country. Off the plane Wayne really pioneered the same model that Pletcher uses so effectively now. · 1222 days ago
Actually Lady's Secret won three Grade 1 races at three and two others (The Test and Ballerina) that became grade 1 shortly after her victories. It's hard to believe she was basically a second stringer until the Saratoga meet of 1985. If you ran a series of three races with her against any other filly at any track I would put my money on her.
I believe Althea's time for the Arkansas Derby was the fifth fastest of all time among 3-year-olds(at that time). Not to be forgotten about the magical '84 Oaklawn season, was the fact that there were nine track records that were either tied, or broken, that year. I believe Heatherten still has the 1 1/16 record, and Win Stat had the mile and 70 yard world record(at that time), which is still the track record, I believe.
Sorry I know open mind did not run in the triple crown races but Will take charge l will not win the 3 year old Eclipse based on those races.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

As Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of Directors of The Exceller Fund. Brian also consults for leading contest site Derby Wars, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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