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Will Take Charge Upsets the Big Three in the Travers

Will Take Charge was the upset winner in the 144th running of the Travers defeating the three favorites Palace Malice, Orb, and Verrazano. Sent off at odds of 9.6-1 Will Take Charge gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas his third Travers victory, having already won in 1995 with Thunder Gulch and in 1991 with Corporate Report.
The race began as expected with Moreno taking the lead and setting the early moderate fractions of :24.4, :48.88, and 1:13.43. Romansh stayed a length or so behind Moreno with favorite Verrazano right outside his hip. They stayed this way for the first three quarters of a mile.
Orb had been saving ground along the rail and entering the turn he began to make up ground on the leaders. Palace Malice broke sluggishly and was eighth in the early going. Yet coming around the clubhouse turn, the Dogwood Stable colt began a slow but steady rally down the middle of the track.
With Orb gaining on the rail and Palace Malice closing down the center of the track, Will Take Charge was making his move down the three path with very little fanfare.
While a determined Moreno refused to give up the lead without a fight, Verrazano and Romansh both began to fade. As Orb had finally reached Moreno, Will Take Charge was moving best of all and in the final few strides was able to pass Moreno and win the Travers by a head.
Even Lukas wasn’t sure about the finish, “At about the three-eighths pole I thought we’d get a piece of it, but I didn’t know if we would get up.”
In preparation for the Travers Lukas, who is nicknamed “The Coach” from his years as a high school and college basketball coach, had been making changes that he thought would give his horse an edge. Many experts wondered what The Coach had in mind.
“I changed up some things. I took a chance on an up and coming rider [Luis Saez],” said Lukas.  “He’s a little over 17 hands and he’s just trying to find himself.  He’s like that big freshman who is a gawky basketball player, but when he’s a senior he’s slam-dunking.  The horse is going to get better. He is getting his act together.”
In the end Will Take Charge won the $1 million dollar grade one over a very gutsy Moreno.  Orb finished a close third in his first race back since the Belmont Stakes. Palace Malice, who may have made up the most ground of all, managed to finish a close fourth.
The win by Will Take Charge has made the three year-old colt division even more confusing when most racing fans thought that the champion would be crowned in the Travers. 


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Older Comments about Will Take Charge Upsets the Big Three in the Travers...

track in Bensalem PA would favor Moreno
Orb needs another race...Moving him outside his comfort zone (sustained to presser) showed on him.
what a stretch and race! Orb made a great effort. Maybe he needs a little R&R..
the game of musical chairs between these 3-yr-olds continues. Another exciting race, another hard fought and well deserved win.
PA Derby next for Will Take Charge and Moreno
107 BSF for the Travers winner, Will Take Charge
Richard Eng Capper for Las Vegas Journal Review tweeted me to include WTC in the end and I only listened enough to put him 2nd on my exotics. Stubborn here.
Will Take Charge was one of my top 4 picks, but I'll admit to not paying much attention to him in the stretch drive. I was too busy willing Orb to get past Moreno.

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