Race of the Week 2017

Will Take Charge ready for new challenges


Word out of Hot Springs, Arkansas is that Will Take Charge is in fine fettle, and that we should expect to see the genuine article when he makes his debut as an older horse in the Donn Handicap in two weeks time. If so, if the newly minted 3yo Male Champion that danced every dance, and finished 2013 off so strongly, can indeed pick up where he left off and shine again in this new year, he will be bucking a trend in American racing that needs a good bucking.

Of the last dozen 3yo Male Champions, only two of those Eclipse Award winners became stakes winners in their four-year-old season. Think about that for a moment. The horses that we recognized as the best of our most celebrated division failed to come back to win a single stakes race the following year in ten of the last twelve seasons. I believe this stat, as much as any, speaks to a real weakness in American racing. It is also easily explained. Take a look at the list’s respective four-year-old seasons.

2001 - Point Given - Retired

2002 - War Emblem - Retired

2003 - Funny Cide - (10-3-2-3) Jockey Club Gold Cup winner.

2004 - Smarty Jones - Retired

2005 - Afleet Alex - Retired

2006 - Bernardini - Retired

2007 - Curlin - (7-5-1-0) Horse of the Year.

2008 - Big Brown -  Retired

2009 - Summer Bird - Retired

2010 - Lookin at Lucky - Retired

2011 - Animal Kingdom - (2-1-1-0) Allowance winner and BC Mile 2nd.

2012 - I’ll Have Another - Retired


As you can see, most of the last dozen 3yo Male Champions had no chance to prove to be quality older horses. 75% of them were retired before their older racing career could begin. Of the other three, Curlin came back as good as ever, Funny Cide was solid, and a major winner, and Animal Kingdom lost much of his four-year-old season, but still proved his class in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and then famously in the following year’s Dubai World Cup

This success is a good sign for Will Take Charge, the older horse, but frankly, the way he closed last year, he does not seem like a colt in need of positive omens. 

An iron horse three-year-old, he ran eleven times in 2013, all of them being stakes races. Will Take Charge ran on seven different dirt tracks ranging in distance from a mile to twelve furlongs. He ran in America’s most prestigious races, and as he did in many of his races, he finished with a flourish. 

In his final five races, and since dropping blinkers, he finished a fast closing second to Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy, he defeated the top competition of his crop in the Travers, he easily won the Pennsylvania Derby, he missed getting up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a whisker, and then nailed Game On Dude in the final yards of the Clark Handicap.

It appears clear that success for Will Take Charge as a four-year-old will not be the thing that bucks a trend, because the good ones do come back well, and Will Take Charge is definitely a good one. The thing that really makes this son of Unbridled’s Song different than most of our recent champions is his connections’ willingness and sportsmanship in bringing him back for more. 

Owner Willis Horton, last seen stealing the show at the Eclipse Awards, should be thanked and congratulated for working out a breeding deal with Three Chimneys that allows him to campaign the best horse he will ever own for his four-year-old season. In fact, that is what I am going to do right now ... On behalf of American racing fans, I say thank you, Willis Horton.



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Older Comments about Will Take Charge ready for new challenges...

UnionRagsRules is a realist! God Bless you man! you got that right when you stated that WTC is better then Mucho "Monkey" Man.
Late movers on dirt win far less than they should as the very nature of energy exertion on that surface favors the speed
Will Take Charge is better than Mucho Macho Man, and he will prove that in 2014.
About time a racing 4 year old horse !
Great to hear ol' Willis Horton be true to his word and keep WTC racing. He had a tough sophomore year campaign, but answered every bell. Look forward to seeing that wide, white blaze storm down the stretch again!
Wow, I hadn't realized Will Take Charge had raced so many times last year.
You've got Animal Kingdom and I'll Have Another years switched, but nonetheless another great article. I'm going to be really interested to see if any newcomer in the Donn (Zaikov perhaps) can give WTC a run
Top 5 older dirt males. 1- Mucho Macho Man, 2- Will Take Charge, 3- Game On Dude, 4- Cross Traffic, 5- River Seven.
Will Take Charge is beginning to remind me of another chrome-faced chestnut: Shackleford! Though I have to say that I believe WTC will end up being more successful overall than fan-favorite Shackleford was.
My top 5 older dirt males as of Jan. 27: 1) Mucho Macho Man 2) Will Take Charge 3) Game On Dude 4) Palace Malice 5) Shakin It Up.
you think that old D Wayne will not stop when the well has long since gone dry??
WTC will win the Breeders Cup Classic 2014. Then he will promptly retire
this one is the care of D. Wayne? Well we shall see
  • tcglory · Why do so many people think this horse will fail and or just ignore his brilliance cause of who his trainer is? Will Take Charge is Awesome and if you Dont like Dwayne you dont like WTC Fine by me your oponions are yours. Ill stand by both till the end of there carears. · 1396 days ago
Will Take Charge will take stakes races in 2014!

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