PENNSYLVANIA DERBY | PURSE: $1,000,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 1 1/8-MILES
Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge has long been referred to by racing pundits as a horse who makes one powerful run, and on Sept. 21 that run landed him in the Parx Racing winner's circle with a 2 ¼-length victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
The Unbridled's Song runner, sent off favored at 2-1 in a field of eight 3-year-olds, won his second major sophomore test in a row for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas after claiming the Aug. 24 Travers at Saratoga Race Course. Final time for the 1 ⅛-mile event was 1:49.28.
Fourth on the outside heading into the first turn, Will Take Charge dropped back to fifth and hit a comfortable stride under jockey Luis Saez while Travers runner-up Moreno took his customary place in the lead. After a bad break in which he was crowded from the outside at the start, Moreno set the pace through opening fractions of :23.35, :46.74, and 1:10.41 while maintaining the advantage turning for home.
Still outside in fifth rolling into the far turn, Will Take Charge was shifted toward an opening left on the rail when a tiring Moreno drifted out. The blaze-faced chestnut burst to the lead with a few powerful strides and continued to draw off through a mile in 1:36.11 under steady handling.
A gutsy Moreno held for second, with 17-1 shot Battier getting third after a big run off the turn. Transparent, Fury Kapcori, Romansh, Speak Logistics, and Java's War completed the order of finish.
Will Take Charge returned $6.60, $2.80, and $2.80 while 3-1 Moreno paid $3.80 and $2.80. Battier brought $6.80.
Will Take Charge, bred in Kentucky by Eaton out of grade I winner Take Charge Lady, is a $425,000 graduate of the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, in which he was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale. He improved his record to five wins and two seconds from 12 starts, and counts the Rebel Stakes and Smarty Jones Stakes among his previous scores.