04/14/2014 4:15PM

Tale of Two Wins


It wasn't the prettiest of victories - in fact it was downright ugly -  but 3-year-old champion WILL TAKE CHARGE returned to the winner's circle in last Saturday's Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap.

Trained by Wayne Lukas, the consistent son of Unbridled's Song was sent away the prohibitive 2-5 favorite and settled near the back of the compact six-horse field. Jockey Luis Saez kept Will Take Charge unhurried and three paths off the rail as longshot RIGHT TO VOTE set fractions of 23.43 and 47.68. On the final turn, Will Take Charge uncorked a four-wide bid to reach the front, but he drifted in badly under right-handed urging in upper stretch and changed leads twice during the last eighth of a mile. Will Take Charge completed the nine furlongs in 1:49.55 (103 Beyer) while finishing three-quarters of a length better than REVOLUTIONARY and then withstood a lengthy stewards inquiry as well as two claims of foul.

GOLDEN LAD raced directly inside of Will Take Charge turning for home. It is questionable whether he would have impacted the finish with a crystal-clear run, but he not only was put in tight by Will Take Charge, but was bumped offstride by Revolutionary in midstretch. It might be best to simply draw a line through his race.

As for Revolutionary, it's quite possible that he would have won it all if he wasn't intimidated by the mammoth Will Take Charge in midstretch. It appeared as if Revolutionary was moving quite well from in between horses, but he changed back to his left lead and seemed to lose some momentum as Will Take Charge drifted close to his path. Revolutionary switched to his right lead once again once Will Take Charge was clear and rallied with some gusto for the runner-up spot.

Perhaps Will Take Charge needs a little vacation. He's raced 12 times in the last 13 months, competed in all three Triple Crown events last year, and gave gutbusting performances in the Travers, Breeders' Cup Classic and Clark Handicap. When he's right, he's near the top of the list of leading older runners. The Oaklawn Handicap will not go down as one of his finest triumphs, however.

On the other hand, WISE DAN is like Old Man River. He just keeps rolling along.

In capturing the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile, Wise Dan prevailed for the 20th time in his illustrious career. He received a 100 Beyer, his fifteenth consecutive triple-digit speed figure. That ties him with Lite the Fuse for seventh on my highly unofficial list of 100+ Beyer streaks (Cigar, Kona Gold, and Sandpit lead the way with nineteen).

Wise Dan was eager in the early stages of the Maker's 46. He pulled John Velazquez into a pace-tracking spot while three paths of the rail entering the backstretch, but settled down before a half-mile was completed. Velazquez kept Wise Dan out of trouble four wide entering the far turn, and they moved in tandem with Grade 1 winner Lochte. Wise Dan tucked Lochte into bed at the furlong pole and held longshot Kaigun three-quarters of a length safe at the wire. Wise Dan didn't break any speed records (one mile in 1:34.91) and didn't win by a wide margin, but it was a professional performance and a useful steppingstone to races like the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti, the mastermind behind Wise Dan's remarkable career, mentioned to Keeneland Publicity that he wasn't sure he had the two-time Horse of the Year fully cranked. "I told (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) going into the race that ‘I just don’t have him as tight as I need to, but just give him an easy race and if he’s good enough to win. just do the best you can to save him for the next one.’ This one is going to put us where we need to be.”

"He got a little strong on the backstretch," Velazquez mentioned to Keeneland Publicity. "So I let him get his position to where he was comfortable. From then on, he did it very well."


I've seen that DANZA earned a 102 Beyer in the Arkansas Derby. Could you tell us the Beyer for RIDE ON CURLIN and TAPITURE in that race?
Also for MEDAL COUNT in the Blue Grass.
Thank you in advance.

Ride On Curlin - 94
Tapiture - 90
Medal Count - 94


*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.









You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

Dick W More than 1 year ago
Chris Lowe You are correct, the War Emblem Illinois Derby was at Sportsman's Park. War Emblem beat heavy favorite Repent by 6 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:49.92. I looked it up at Equibase. Dick W
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Stuart Hill Someone out there correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe War Emblem won the Illinois Derby at Sportsman'('s?) Park. Chris Lowe
Jenna Renee More than 1 year ago
I can't believe they didn't disqualify Will Take Charge down. How can those stewards justify the decision that they made. It was obvious that he cost at least 1 horse a position and possibly 2. Gary Stevens had to jam on the brakes or he would have went down and Revolutionary was bothered. I am not saying Stevens horse would have won but he would have done better than 4th. Not only was WTC 2/5 but the bridge jumpers were in and were saved......?????
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Van Savant - You know I knew you knew I would know that you threw that "vaunted" in there for my benefit :) Well done :) I LOLed ... but you already knew that :) JJ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KNM and NAR, Beautiful photo of DANCE WITH FATE on sidebar, which is now way down on the bottom of homepage. He looks like the Black Stallion in the picture. Annie
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Poor Tamarando ----- Nobody loves him because his Daddy got beat by Arazi & Arcangues in the BC :) I mean c'mon Bertrando !! You got beat by Euroslugs on dirt ??? !!!! :) :) Did Tamarando finish in front of Chrome on dirt before ??? Gr. I races and so on... lets be serious . All the people that handle these guys want to win Gr.Is with them . Gr. Is are worth something extra. Not very many horses ever win a Gr.I ..... even a weak Ca Gr.I :) Tamarando is a deep closer that wins quite a bit considering his style. He's usually coming so he gets checks. He's a 2. Bertrando won or ran 2nd in a few NY Gr.Is ... Maybe Holly will go back and take some of that eastern money with Tamarando ? :) JJ
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999 I up your Indiana taxes and raise you Maryland. WE have all the taxes all the time. Property tax..yup, State Income yup(almost 8%), sales tax yup 6%, corporate tax yup, county tax yup, we even have a new tax which taxes the rain !!!!! They call it something else but it is dependent on how much rain falls. Whenever I hit a signer I look for "Head" or "Andre". They are 10%'s. If they are both around I can play them off each other and get a better rate. Paying them is better for me as I don't have to justify losses(they are hard to prove to the tax man) but the wins are always chronicled. One less thing to do on the tax form. I can't wait to leave and after this winter..... Florida seems inviting. It just seems that any crazy story is based in Florida. As to the Derby.... there sure seems like a bunch of legitimate threats... but that might be a by product of the "POINTS" system. People love lists. I remember when Tiger Woods was really dominant. By that points system he was farther ahead of the #2 player than the #2 player was ahead of the 100th player. I think(and I will probably change my mind) that Wildcat Red will run his usual steely, hard trying, tough guy race. And Mike A. Agree 1000% on the "bounce" EXCUSE. It is done post race all of the time. I have said for years that the Derby is just a Preakness Prep. Horses can win both or run well in both and have been doing it a long time. Certainly horses can be roughed up after a tough race, but the term bounce is just a throw away lame excuse on a poor performance or a return to a mean. One time in my lacrosse career I scored 7 and assisted on 7 more. A 14 point effort was astounding but the team we were playing was awful and being 5'9" 175lbs. and fairly slow of foot, it was the ONLY TIME where I was bigger, stronger and faster than the guy who playing against me. I couldn't wait to schedule them the following year, but they dropped out of the Club Lacrosse League.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Joel Rosario will ride GENERAL A ROD in the Derby. That's another plus in my book. :) Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael, P.S. He's also from the RAISE A NATIVE sire line. :) Now all I need is his last two Beyers. Anyone? Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael, I like GENERAL A ROD too. And guess what? He gets an "A" grade from Steve and he's a "1". :) Annie