01/04/2014 9:04AM

Oaklawn Park: Will Take Charge up to five furlongs in his works

Barbara D. Livingston
Will Take Charge's participation in the Donn Handicap could hinge on travel plans.

Will Take Charge, the front-runner for champion 3-year-old of 2013, remains in steady training at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., with the early-season races on his radar the Donn at Gulfstream and the Santa Anita Handicap, according to his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas.

Will Take Charge has logged three works at Oaklawn since arriving at the track the latter half of December. His most recent move was a five-furlong breeze in 1:03.20 on Thursday. His previous breezes were half-mile works, on Dec. 18 and Dec. 26.

“He’s going really well, in a nice pattern, not anything serious,” Lukas said. “He’s maturing, putting on weight, and looks good.”

Will Take Charge’s campaign plans are still being determined, but Lukas said travel arrangements will factor into a decision on the Donn, a Grade 1, $500,000 handicap at a mile and an eighth on Feb. 8.

“Getting to Florida and back is not easy this time of year,” he said.

But, Lukas added, the race remains “on the radar.”

Also on the radar, he said, is the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, which will be run at a mile and a quarter on March 8.

Will Take Charge ran at Santa Anita in November, missing by a nose in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. In his most recent out, he won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.

Will Take Charge also won last year’s Travers, Pennsylvania Derby, and Rebel Stakes. His body of work last year has made him a chief contender for an Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old, and also placed him in the conversation for Horse of the Year. The championship winners will be announced at a ceremony at Gulfstream on Jan. 18. 

Will Take Charge races for Willis D. Horton of Marshall, Ark., and Three Chimneys Farm, which announced late last month it had purchased a 50 percent interest in the son of Unbridled’s Song. The horse will retire to the Midway, Ky., farm, following his racing career. Horton will retain 50 percent interest in the horse when he enters stud. Will Take Charge is out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Take Charge Lady.

Will Take Charge was also based at Oaklawn last winter, where in addition to the Rebel he won the $150,000 Smarty Jones. Overall, he has won 6 of 15 starts and $3,055,148.

Oaklawn will begin its 2014 season on Friday.