Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has four career victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, but he will bid for only his second victory
in the Clark Handicap when he saddles Willis D. Horton’s rising 3-year-old Will Take Charge in Friday’s 139th running of the race.
But there’s good
karma for Lukas in Friday’s race in that his only previous win sealed an
Eclipse Award championship for Overbrook Farm’s Surfside,
who was named top 3-year-old filly of 2000
after she closed that campaign with a victory over older males in the
Clark. Lukas hopes to nail down 3-year-old championship honors for Will
Take Charge, whose yearlong body of work is highlighted by a strong
second half of 2013 highlighted by wins in the
Travers (GI) and the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) and a narrow loss to Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where Lukas’ colt lost by only a nose.
Will Take Charge drew post seven in the nine-horse field for the Clark, and Lukas was OK with that development.
“I don’t think
it’s too significant, going a mile-and-an-eighth,” Lukas said. “There’s
such a blend of pace and closers that I don’t think it’ll make a lot of
difference. It should be a fair break.”
While most of the
pre-race talk focuses on the battle between Will Take Charge and
accomplished older rival Game On Dude, Lukas sees the race as much more
than a one-on-one showdown.
“It’s a good
Clark,” Lukas said. “I would say it’s got more depth than some of them
that we’ve had in the last few years. I think it’s a really good bunch.
They’re talking about just those two horses, but
there are some other horses in there that are pretty damn nice.”
Charge has a 4-2-0 record in 10 races this year with earnings on the
season of $2,633,200. His lifetime slate stands at 5-3-0 in 14 races and
his career bankroll is $2,727,371.
Clark run by Will Take Charge will come 27 days after his big effort in
Cup, but Lukas has insisted since that race that his colt has thrived in
the days since he returned to his home base at Churchill Downs. Lukas
said that continues to be the case with two days to go before the final
run of a memorable 2013 season for Will Take
“I’d love to do
this,” Lukas said. “You always like to have things end up well, but I’m
optimistic that we’ve made the right decision here. I’m looking forward
to running him – I really am. He’s doing so
well – I’m really looking forward to it.”