Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Will Take Charge is an amazing racehorse. Not only has he flourished despite an almost unheard of demanding schedule by today’s standards, but the way he finishes every race, in which he has any chance at all to hit the wire first, is truly unique.
I’ve seen them all in the last forty years, and while I am not saying that Will Take Charge is one of the best I’ve seen, at least yet, I honestly cannot remember a horse with a better nose for the wire than this one.
I can still vividly remember how Forego would power home late like a runaway freight train, or how Kotashaan’s turf rally was irresistable, and more recently, how Zenyatta almost always got there, but talk about determined … Will Take Charge is really something else. Let’s take a look at his best seven performances this year.
- Fifty yards from the wire in the Smarty Jones Stakes, I thought that Texas Bling had effectively fought him off. No, one final surge carried Will Take Charge to victory.
- In the Rebel Stakes, I thought his stablemate, and Preakness winner, Oxbow, was home free in deep stretch. He would have been if Will Take Charge had not found another gear or two in the closing stages.
- He may not have won the Jim Dandy, but his impressive late surge not only earned him second money, but could well have carried him to victory against the Belmont winner, Palace Malice, if they had gone much farther.
- Moreno to shock the Travers field? It sure looked that way just yards from the wire after fighting off Orb, but alas, Will Take Charge had something special left for the last several strides.
- Even in his one easy victory of the year, the Pennsylvania Derby, he was in fifth place turning for home and not exactly looking like he was going anywhere fast. He must have seen the wire early that day, because this one was over quickly.
- What can you say about the Breeders’ Cup Classic? Mucho Macho Man and Declaration of War ran big, and the former looked like a sure thing winner fifty yards out. Of course, by then we knew better. One determined lunge, and Will Take Charge was just a whisker away from breaking the Macho Man’s heart.
- And finally, today in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Game On Dude did everything perfectly. He stalked the early lead and powered to the front in the stretch. Only a horse with a heart as big as Texas was going to get him beat in this one. No, it wasn’t Forego or Zenyatta, it was Will Take Charge, and you just knew he was going to get there today.
Will Take Charge has been a true warrior for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, owner, Willis B. Horton, and rider Luis Saez. He will be crowned Champion Three-year-old male in a few months, of that, I am convinced. You know what else I’m convinced of? If Will Take Charge has a chance to get to the wire first, even if it looks like he won’t, he is going to summon up one final surge that probably gets it done. He is an amazing horse.