Will Take Charge always had the pedigree to be great – he is out of multiple G1 winner Take Charge Lady, and is a half-brother to Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. Yet despite his fancy family, Will Take Charge struggled early in his career to gain footing in the three-year-old championship standings.
His early disappointments were perhaps due to his size, as the handsome chestnut colt stood right at 17 hands. So, when the flashy chestnut colt shocked Saratoga with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory in the Travers Stakes, many wondered if the race was a fluke.
However, the G2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racetrack proved that the Midsummer Derby was real; as Will Take Charge stormed through a hole on the rail, en route to a 2 1/2 length victory, he showed any remaining naysayers that he had finally grown into his huge frame.
Winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas was thrilled with the way his colt trained up to the race, saying “He was like a lead pony in the paddock, and was on his toes yesterday while schooling. He’s been a big, gangly horse who is just finding his feet now.”
The mile and an eighth race drew a field of eight, including the two-pronged Godolphin entry of Transparent and Romansh. Also entered was Dwyer (G2) winner Moreno, who was most recently second in the Travers after holding on to the lead from the start until the very last few strides. As the lone front-runner in the race, Moreno received heavy action at the betting windows. Rounding out the field in the Derby were Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Java’s War, Todd Pletcher-trained Battier, and listed stakes winners Speak Logistics and Fury Kapcori.
At the break, Will Take Charge broke smoothly from the outside post position and settled in fifth, letting rival Moreno set a solid pace that was prompted by California invader Fury Kapcori. As usual, Will Take Charge took his time getting into stride, but once the field hit the top of the stretch, the chestnut son of Unbridled’s Song exploded, rocketing through along the rail and pulling away to an easy victory.
Moreno valiantly held on for second, over fast-closing Battier. The three-year-olds completed the race on a fast track in 1:49.28.
According to trainer Lukas, Will Take Charge will get a well-deserved five-week break before focusing on the long-term goal of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. “I think we are very much in the picture for three-year-old champion, so we’re on to the next page after this.”