Will Take Charge continued his late charge towards a possible Eclipse Award with an impressive score in today’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
Bet down late to 2-1 favoritism, the good looking son of Unbridled’s Song broke well from the outside under rider Luis Saez, before settling back into a good position in fifth on the outside for the run down the backstretch. Meanwhile, second choice, Moreno, and Fury Kapcori carved out solid fractions on the lead through a :23.35 and :46.74 for the half. Saez asked the Travers winner to pick it up on the turn, but was joined on the outside by longshot Battier, who was moving well. This caused horse and rider to look for room to the inside.
Finding the room he needed, Will Take Charge turned it on as soon as he got down to the rail. Moreno tried to fight back, and Battier kept coming on the outside, but the D. Wayne Lukas charge proved too good for the competition. Uncoiling his long legs down the lane, Will Take Charge hit the Parx finish line 2 ¼ lengths the best.
Moreno finished directly behind Will Take Charge for the third straight time, as he gamely held off Battier for second place money. No word yet if Moreno's trainer Eric Guillot will be blaming the loss on anything other than a better horse.
Owned by Arkansas native, and long-time thoroughbred owner, Willis Horton, Will Take Charge finished the nine furlongs, over a fast track, in a solid 1:49.28. He paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.80 to his many supporters. Moreno returned $3.80 and $2.80, and Battier paid $6.80 to show.
Now a winner of four stakes races in 2013, Will Take Charge had thrown his hat into the championship ring with a thrilling late burst that carried him to victory against a strong field in the Travers four weeks ago. Building on that performance, Will Take Charge not only won today’s Grade 2 race emphatically, but it also marked his third strong race since having taken blinkers off since a disappointing finish in the Belmont Stakes. Two races back he closed fast to run second to Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy.
While it cannot be disputed that Will Take Charge has thrown in some poor efforts this year, the son of Unbridled’s Song is clearly doing his best running at the right time of the year. I asked this question earlier this week … Can a horse who floundered through the Triple Crown, finishing 8th, 7th, and 10th respectively, possibly end the year as the Three-year-old Male Champion? In the case of Will Take Charge, the answer is yes. After today, that yes is even closer to coming true.