01/21/2013 6:52PM

Oaklawn: Will Take Charge digs in to take Smarty Jones by a neck

Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
With his Smarty Jones victory, Will Take Charge earned 10 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility if the May 4 classic is oversubscribed.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark - Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Jon Court won their second 3-year-old prep in two days on Monday, when Will Take Charge dug in to get past Texas Bling by a neck in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park. On Saturday at Fair Grounds, the men teamed to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte with Oxbow.

“It was a big weekend,” said Court.

The Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first 3-year-old route stakes of the meet, and for his win Will Take Charge earned 10 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility if the May 4 classic is oversubscribed. Texas Bling picked up four points for second, while Always in a Tiz, the favorite who was a head back in third, earned two points, and fourth-place finisher, Stormy Holiday, one point.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Will Take Charge ($26.80) was hung five wide into the first turn of the Smarty Jones as Avare took the field through fractions of 23.11 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.65 for the half-mile, while pressed by Texas Bling. Will Take Charge stalked in third, then advanced three wide on the turn to join Texas Bling, who took over through six furlongs in 1:11.89. In the stretch, Will Take Charge dug in and edged Texas Bling in a photo, covering the mile on a track rated fast in 1:38.64. The race ended at the sixteenth pole, as with all one-mile races at Oaklawn.

“He showed me a lot of heart,” Lukas said. “He had a horrible trip into the first turn, but he got the job done. He’s a nice horse and we can build off of this. We’re feeling good about him.”

Lukas said he and owner Willis D. Horton will be discussing next-race plans for Will Take Charge.

Will Take Charge is a son of Unbridled’s Song and the multiple Grade 1-winning racemare Take Charge Lady. He is also a half-brother to last year’s Florida Derby winner, Take Charge Indy.

The order of finish in the Smarty Jones reversed the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park in December, when Texas Bling won the race over Will Take Charge, at 128-1.

The remaining order of finish in the Smarty Jones was Brown Almighty in fifth, followed by Officer Alex, Avare, Best of Birdstone, and King Henny.

Attendance at Oaklawn was 12,821.