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Will Take Charge pushes his head in front of determined stablemate Oxbow to win the Rebel Stakes and take over the Kentucky Derby points lead. (Photo courtesy of Coady Photography)

Making the Grade, which will run right up until the Belmont Stakes (G1), will focus on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) based on factors such as ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.

This week we take a look at Will Take Charge, winner of Saturday’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

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Will Take Charge

Chestnut colt

Sire (Father): Unbridled’s Song

Dam (Mother): Take Charge Lady, by Dehere

Breeders: Eaton (Ky.)

Owners: Willis D. Horton

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Will Take Charge caught stablemate Oxbow in the final strides on the Rebel Stakes on March 16 at Oaklawn Park to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby. The Unbridled’s Song colt earned 50 points and jumped to the top of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Twinspires.com Points Leaderboard. Will Take Charge rebounded convincingly from a disappointing start on a sloppy track in the Southwest Stakes on February 18.

Ability: On the path to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, 3-year-olds regularly go in and out of favor based on a single performance. Will Take Charge serves as a reminder that racing fans shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss a horse after one bad performance.

In his start prior to the Rebel Stakes, Will Take Charge was beaten by 18 lengths on a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park in the Southwest Stakes. That was Will Take Charge’s first race on a rain-soaked track and he clearly did not care for the soupy surface. Still, that was the second times in as many graded stakes that Will Take Charge was soundly beaten, so the other possible explanation was that he simply was outclassed.

Will Take Charge provided the answer in the Rebel when he unleashed an explosive late bid to catch Lecomte Stakes winner Oxbow near the finish line, regaining the winning form that he flashed in taking down the Smarty Jones Stakes in January.

Will Take Charge now has two stakes wins and one runner-up finish in a stakes in his last four races and has the look of a 3-year-old really starting to figure out what the sport is all about. It’s not unusual for 3-year-olds to demonstrate significant improvement as they develop and grow in body and mind, and if you toss out the one sloppy track disaster Will Take Charge has the look of a true Kentucky Derby hopeful.

Running style: Will Take Charge has shown the versatility to be able to race close to the front if the early pace is leisurely or to sit back and make one big late run – as he did in the Rebel - if a speed duel develops up front. He has won stakes races using both tactics, which should serve him well moving along the path to the Kentucky Derby.

Should Will Take Charge make it to the “Run for the Roses” on May 4, expect him to be reserved early by regular rider Jon Court as the pace in the 1 ¼-mile classic is almost always fast. Such tactics would mean navigating a path through traffic, but the Rebel experience should serve him well.

(Click here to view the 2013 Derby Leaderboard)

Connections: Inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, D. Wayne Lukas led all U.S. trainers by purse earnings every year from 1983 to 1992 and owns a record 19 victories in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including 11 with 2-year-olds.

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Making the Grade: Uncaptured

Making the Grade: Shanghai Bobby

Lukas has won the Kentucky Derby four times in his career, tied for second with H. J. “Dick” Thompson behind only Ben Jones with six. His 13 wins in Triple Crown races is tied for the most all time with James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons. But perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of Lukas’ career was a run of six straight classic wins with four different horses beginning with Tabasco Cat’s 1994 Preakness victory and extending through Grindstone’s 1996 Kentucky Derby win.

Lukas clearly knows how to prepare a quality 3-year-old for the Triple Crown, however he has not won a classic race since Commendable won the Belmont Stakes in 2000.

Willis Horton is a native of Marshall, Ark., who grew up attending the races at Oaklawn Park and raced horses for years with his family’s Horton Stables. Partner’s Hero, a multiple stakes winner in the late 1990s was one of Horton Stables top early horses and the Horton family also owned 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever.

Jon Court finished 11th aboard Optimizer in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. His first career Kentucky Derby mount was Archarcharch in 2011. Court is an Oaklawn Park veteran and was leading rider at the Hot Springs, Ark., track in 2000. Court has won more than 3,700 races in his career, including the 2010 Arkansas Derby aboard Line of David.

Pedigree: Will Take Charge is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. Their dam, Take Charge Lady, was a standout on the racetrack, winning half of her 22 career races and earning more than $2.4 million. Take Charge Lady won the three Grade 1 races in her career – the Ashland Stakes and the Spinster Stakes twice, all at Keeneland Race Course. By 1993 champion 2-year-old male, Take Charge Lady was at her best in two-turn races where she could use her speed to her advantage and run away from the competition. She won six times by 3 ½ lengths or more and led into the stretch in the 2002 Kentucky Oaks before fading to second behind Farda Amiga. Clearly, Will Take Charge gets a powerful dose of class from his mother.

Will Take Charge’s sire, Unbridled’s Song, also has a nice record at stud with top runners such as U.S. champion Midshipman, Canadian champion Embur’s Song and Breeders’ Cup winners Unrivaled Belle and Unbridled Elaine to name just a few.

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1. Itsmyluckyday

11. Oxbow

2. Revolutionary

12. Noble Tune

3. Shanghai Bobby

13. Uncaptured

4. Verrazano

14. Mac the Man

5. Orb

15. Palace Malice

6. Vyjack

16. Mr. Palmer

7. Hear the Ghost

17. Code West

8. Normandy Invasion

18. Crop Report

9. Flashback

19. Overanalyze

10. Will Take Charge

20. War Academy

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Haciendo El Grado: Will Take Charge

En Español

Translated by Jose Contreras

Haciendo el Grado, que se extenderá hasta el Belmont Stakes (G1), se centrará en los ganadores de las grandes carreras, por lo general de el fin de semana anterior, quienes podrían afectar a la Triple Corona del 2013. Le estaremos dando un vistazo de cerca a los impresionante ganadores y evaluar sus posibilidades de ganar el Kentucky Derby 2013 (G1) basado en factores como la habilidad, estilo de carrera, conexiones (dueño, entrenador, jinete) y pedigree.

Esta semana le echamos un vistazo a Will Take Charge, ganador del $600,000 Rebel Stakes este sábado pasado para el entrenador D. Wayne Lukas quien ya es miembro del Salón de la Fama.

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Will Take Charge

Potro Castaño

Padre (Sire): Unbridled’s Song

Madre (Dam): Take Charge Lady, por Dehere

Criadores (Breeders): Eaton (Kentucky)

Dueño (Owner): Willis D. Horton

Entrenador (Trainer): D. Wayne Lukas

Will Take Charge alcanzo a su compañero de establo Oxbow en los pasos finales en el Rebel Stakes el 16 de marzo en Oaklawn Park y estampo su boleto para el Kentucky Derby. El potro por Unbridled’s Song ganó 50 puntos y subió a lo alto del tablero de puntos del camino al Kentucky Derby presentado por Twinspires.com. Will Take Charge se recuperó despues un inicio decepcionante en una pista empapada en el Southwest Stakes el 18 de febrero.

Habilidad: En el camino a Louisville para el Kentucky Derby, caballos de 3 años de edad regularmente entran y salen del favor basada en una sola actuación. Will Take Charge sirve como un recordatorio de que aficionados a las carreras no deben ser demasiado rápidos para despedir a un caballo después de un mal desempeño.

En su inicio antes del Rebel Stakes, Will Take Charge fue derrotado por 18 largas en una pista mojada en Oaklawn Park en el Southwest Stakes. Esa fue la primera carrera que Will Take Charge corrio en una pista empapada por la lluvia y estubo claro que no le gusto la superficie. Aún así, esa fue la segunda vez en el igual numero de carreras de Stakes que Will Take Charge fue derrotado, la otra posible explicación era de que simplemente fue superado por caballos de mejor clase.

Will Take Charge dio la respuesta en el Rebel cuando respondio con una movida explosiva en la parte final de la carrera para alcanzar en la recta final al ganador del Lecomte Stakes Oxbow, recuperando la forma ganadora que enseño cuando gano el Smarty Jones Stakes en enero. 

Will Take Charge Hero2

Will Take Charge ahora tiene dos victorias de Stakes y un segundo puesto en Stakes en sus últimas cuatro carreras y tiene el aspecto de un 3 años de edad que esta empezando a averiguar lo que esto se trata. No es raro que los caballos de 3 años de edad demuestren una mejora significativa a medida que se desarrollan y crecen en el cuerpo y la mente, y si tiras el desastre una pista empapada, Will Take Charge tiene el aspecto de un verdadero esperanzado al Kentucky Derby.

Estilo de Carrera: Will Take Charge ha demostrado la versatilidad de poder correr cerca de la parte delantera si el ritmo es pausado o sentarse y hacer una movida grande en la parte tarde de la carrera - como lo hizo en el Rebel - si se desarrolla un duelo de velocidad en la delantera . Ha ganado carreras de Stakes con ambas tácticas, que deberían servirle bien a lo largo de la ruta al Kentucky Derby.

Si Will Take Charge llega a la "Carrera por las Rosas" el 4 de mayo, espero que el jinete Jon Court lo reserve temprano ya que el ritmo en el clásico de 1 ¼ de milla es casi siempre rápido. Estas tácticas significaría navegar por un camino a través del tráfico, pero la experiencia del Rebel le sirvira muy bien.

Conexiones: Incluido en el Salón de la Fama de Carreras en 1999, D. Wayne Lukas lideró a todos los entrenadores de los Estados Unidos por ganancias monedero todos los años desde 1983 hasta 1992 y es dueño de un récord de 19 victorias en los Breeders’ Cup World Championships, incluyendo 11 de ellos con caballos de 2 años de edad.

Lukas ha ganado el Kentucky Derby en cuatro ocasiones en su carrera, empatado en segundo lugar con H.J. "Dick" Thompson sólo por detrás de Ben Jones, con seis. Sus 13 victorias en carreras de la Triple Corona está empatado en el más todos los tiempos con James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons. Pero quizás el logro más notable de la carrera de Lukas fue una racha de seis victorias consecutivas clásicas con cuatro caballos diferentes comenzando con la victoria Tabasco Cat en el Preakness de 1994 y se extiende hasta la victoria de Grindstone el el Kentucky Derby de 1996.

Lukas claramente sabe cómo preparar a un caballo de calidad de 3 años de edad para la Triple Corona, sin embargo él no ha ganado una carrera clásica desde que Commendable ganó el Belmont Stakes en 2000.

Willis Horton es originario de Marshall, Arkansas, y creció asistiendo a las carreras en Oaklawn Park y compitió durante años con caballos de su familia, Horton Stables. Partner’s Gero, un múltiple ganador de Stakes en la década de 1990 fue uno de los mejores caballos de Horton Stables y la familia Horton también fue dueña de la ganadora del 2006 Kentucky Oaks, Lemons Forever.

Jon Court terminó en lugar numero 11 a bordo de Optimizer en el Kentucky Derby de 2012. Su primera monta en el Kentucky Derby fue Archarcharch en 2011. Court es un veterano de Oaklawn Park y fue líder de jinetes en el 2000 en la pista de Hot Springs, Arkansas. Court ha acumulado más de 3,700 victorias en su carrera, incluyendo el Arkansas Derby en 2010 a bordo de Line of David.

Pedigree: Will Take Charge es un medio hermano (misma madre, distinto padre) del ganador del Florida Derby del 2012, Take Charge Indy. Su madre, Take Charge Lady, fue destacada en la pista, ganando la mitad de sus 22 carreras y accumulo más de $ 2.4 millones de dolares en ganancias. Take Charge Lady ganó las tres carreras de grado 1 en su carrera - El Ashland Stakes y Spinster Stakes dos veces, en el hipódromo de Keeneland. Por Dehere, el campeón de 2 años de edad de sexo masculino en 1993, Take Charge Lady estaba en su mejor en las carreras de dos vueltas cuando podia usar su velocidad para su ventaja y huir de la competencia. Ella ganó seis veces por 3 cuerpos y medio o más, y llevó la ventaja hasta la recta final del 2002 Kentucky Oaks cuando termino en segundo lugar detras de Farda Amiga. Claramente, Will Take Charge recibe una dosis potente de clase de su madre.

El padre de Will Take Charge, Unbridled’s Song, también tiene un buen record con sus crias con corredores de la talla del campeon en los Estados Unidos Midshipman, campeón canadiense Embur’s Song y ganadores del Breeders’ Cup Unrivaled Belle y Unbridled Elaine por nombrar sólo algunos. 

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Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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