Stablemates Will Take Charge and Oxbow, the top two finishers in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes (G2), were doing well Sunday morning and trainer D. Wayne Lukas was already plotting their next course, although he was in no hurry to make a firm decision. With his wins in both the Smarty Jones and Rebel, Willis D. Horton’s Will Take Charge now has 60 points based on Churchill Downs’ new criteria and is already guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby May 4. Calumet Farm’s Oxbow earned 20 points for finishing second, bringing his total to 36 points.
“Both pulled up excellent and ate up well,” said Lukas. “They were fine this morning. I don’t know what we’ll do next. I will keep them separated. If I had to make a decision today – which I don’t and I won’t – the Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass are obvious and the Louisiana Derby comes back too quick. I think it helped to come out of their own stalls and run on their home track. Sometimes horses with a lot of seasoning take to it, but then you also get some talented ones that don’t need it.”
The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland are both April 13 and both offer 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. Lukas could have as many as four starters in the Kentucky Derby with Channel Isle and Titletown Five having important out-of-town stakes engagements next weekend. Channel Isle, fourth in the Southwest Stakes (G3), will travel to Turfway Park in Florence, KY for the $550,000 Spiral Stakes March 23 and Titletown Five, second in the Gazebo Stakes, will head in the opposite direction to New Mexico for the $800,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park March 24.