09/23/2013 12:03PM

Breeders’ Cup Classic: Will Take Charge punches ticket; big weekend of preps ahead

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Barbara D. Livingston
Will Take Charge, winner of the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, will make his next start in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Will Take Charge continued his late-season resurgence Saturday with his victory in the Pennsylvania Derby, his second straight graded stakes win, his third straight sharp performance since a forgettable Triple Crown series, and his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

The Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby afforded its 3-year-olds an opportunity to have a final Breeders’ Cup against members of their own age group. The stakes, and intrigue, will be raised exponentially this Saturday, when the likes of Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Palace Malice, the Belmont Stakes winner, show where the 3-year-olds match up against their elders, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. Flat Out – a two-time winner of the Gold Cup – Cross Traffic and Alpha are the leading older horses scheduled to run in the Gold Cup.

Also on Saturday, but at Santa Anita, the Awesome Again – formerly the Goodwood – will serve as a Classic tune-up for horses like Mucho Macho Man and Paynter, while at Churchill Downs that night, defending BC Classic winner Fort Larned is set to go in the inaugural Homecoming Classic.

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: See DRF’s top contenders]

The ante-post favorite for the Classic, Game On Dude, is bypassing the Awesome Again, as trainer Bob Baffert believes he does best at this point in his career with time between races, exemplified by his most-recent victory, a runaway in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

One older horse now out of the picture for the Classic, perhaps even done for the year, is Successful Dan, whose two races at Saratoga this summer “took a lot out of him,” trainer Charlie LoPresti said Monday morning from Kentucky. Successful Dan was second in the Whitney on Aug. 3, then third in the Woodward on Aug. 31.

“I was kind of looking at a race at Keeneland,” LoPresti said, referring to the Fayette on Oct. 26, “but I may just go and give him the rest of the winter off. I’m not real happy with how he’s doing. He’s just a little tired, and I’ve lost some time with him. I’m certainly not going to California with him. You’ve got to be 100 percent, in tip-top shape, for that, and he’s not, not like Wise Dan.”