08/25/2013 10:06AM

Saratoga: Will Take Charge, Moreno eye Pennsylvania Derby as division remains wide open

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Michael Amoruso
Will Take Charge (No. 5) rallies outside of Moreno to win the Grade 1 Travers by a nose Saturday.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Will Take Charge and Moreno, separated by a nose in Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes, are likely to meet again in next month’s Pennsylvania Derby, while Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice appear headed for the Jockey Club Gold Cup as the race for the 3-year-old championship heads into the fall.

Will Take Charge, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, surged late under Luis Saez to nip 31-1 shot Moreno in the final strides and win the Travers, muddling the 3-year-old division while earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in the process.

On Sunday morning, Lukas said Will Take Charge came out of the race very well and that the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 21 at Parx and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont were the two races he and owner Willis Horton talked about Saturday night.

While both races carry a $1 million purse, the Pennsylvania Derby allows Will Take Charge to meet only 3-year-olds. Also, Lukas and Horton each would be in line for a $50,000 bonus from Parx management for bringing the Travers winner to the Pennsylvania Derby. The connections of the winners of any Triple Crown race and the Haskell also are eligible for such a bonus.

Will Take Charge, who ran in all three Triple Crown races without much impact, added the Travers to a résumé that includes wins in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and the listed Smarty Jones.

“Everybody has to do more to sort this out,” Lukas said about the divisional championship. “He’s in the picture with the rest of them, certainly.”

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Moreno, whose lone stakes victory is the Grade 2 Dwyer, hasn’t done enough to be considered for the 3-year-old championship, but he certainly ran a gutsy race in the Travers, leading for all but the last jump – not bad for a horse who won his first race June 8.

“I wasn’t too far off when I said I think I might have one of the best 3-year-olds in the country,” trainer Eric Guillot said Sunday. “I beat the Derby, Belmont, and Haskell winner, and he beat Orb on the fair and square.”

Guillot said he would keep Moreno at Saratoga until a few days before the Pennsylvania Derby.

Orb, in his first start since the Belmont Stakes, rallied along the inside to put his head in front at the eighth pole but couldn’t sustain his bid and was beaten three-quarters of a length.

“I thought he ran great, I thought Jose [Lezcano] rode him really well – I got no qualms,” trainer Shug McGaughey said Sunday. “Who knows what would have happened if Moreno would have stopped earlier? I thought he would have gone out there and gone faster.”

McGaughey said the Jockey Club Gold Cup was the likely next target for Orb, “but that doesn’t eliminate the Pennsylvania Derby,” he added.

McGaughey believes that Orb, who has wins in the Florida Derby and the Fountain of Youth in addition to the Kentucky Derby, is the leader of the division at this point.

“I think Orb has to be the leader,” McGaughey said. “He ran against Will Take Charge four times and beat him three. Verrazano, we ran against him twice, and we beat him twice. Palace Malice, we ran against him three times and beat him two.”

Orb was scheduled Sunday afternoon to be vanned back to the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where he had spent the last two months leading up to the Travers.

Palace Malice, who won the Belmont and Jim Dandy Stakes from a stalking position, was compromised in the Travers by a bad break that left him last early on under Mike Smith. Still, he rallied to finish fourth, beaten only a length.

“Mike said he took a step forward, they were trying to correct him when they kicked it, he wasn’t standing properly, and his hind legs went out from underneath him,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He got away bad, totally took him out of his game plan. Considering that, he ran great, got beat a length.”

The biggest disappointment of the Travers was Verrazano, the Haskell Invitational winner, who backed up to seventh, beaten 11 lengths in the Travers as the 8-5 favorite. Pletcher could find no excuse and believes that Verrazano simply regressed from his 9 3/4-length win in the Haskell four weeks ago.

“If you’re a believer in the bounce theory, it looks like a classic bounce,” Pletcher said. “In the Haskell, he ran a 116 Beyer Figure, and he ran a 97 Beyer Figure yesterday. We got the trip we wanted; everything was going smoothly. At the half-mile pole, Johnny [Velazquez] said he didn’t get the response he expected. After going three-quarters in [1:12.88], you can’t say it was the mile and a quarter that got him beat.”

Pletcher said he would take a couple of weeks to make a decision on what to do next with Verrazano. He said all options are open, including training up to the Breeders’ Cup.

Asked for his thoughts on the 3-year-old division, Pletcher said, “I’d say it’s as wide open as it was going in.”

russell More than 1 year ago
Should be a great JC Gold Cup. Palace Malice is the most talented 3 year old.
Mark More than 1 year ago
How wrong was I really ? I said if Verrazano runs back to his Haskell no one beats him. He didn't. He did not run a step. He did not run a little. The distance was not the issue as 99% of you on here said it would be and some of you clueless still think it was. Second I said Orb had zero shot to win . He lost again. 100% correct I was. Third I said I was going to bet WTC over orb head to head . I did . I won. WTC beat orb. 3rd I picked WTC way back in the rebel @ 29-1 and said he would be one tough horse come the fall. So let's review. Verrazano lost but didn't run his race . He was dead after a mile going 1:13 for 6f. I said Orb had zero shot to win and he lost . 100% correct. I said wtc would beat orb and he did . 100% correct. I cashed beating orb . To all of you touting orb and bashing v you lost . AGAIN .
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
So what does it feel like being a loser and a genius in your own mind?
Mark More than 1 year ago
More than likely better than you feel losing again on orb.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Ha ha ha . WTC crushed orb . How bout them apples.
edb More than 1 year ago
And smashed your wonder horse, but that doesn't matter because he didn't run his race. Do you get a refund for that? Grow up
Mark More than 1 year ago
Orb ran his and wasn't good enough. Lol.
Mark More than 1 year ago
how does it feel knowing deep down inside I know what the hell I'm talking about
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
There is a lot of people on this site with lots of useful information. I've never got anything from you.
Mark More than 1 year ago
WTC beat Orb. You lose AGAIN Allan. Nothing new for you chasing that also ran around . Some people never learn. You apparently are one.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Really! Its called denial!
edb More than 1 year ago
Let's all pitch in and buy Mark a better helmet. Does not play well with others. If Verrazano is at the Classic, it's as an outrider like Lava Man.
Dan K More than 1 year ago
The issue is, Verazzano is over rated and can't run with the big boys. Look at his undefeated record leading up to the Derby...he raced against no one. Lame ducked in the Derby and then ran away from the other two big races. Runs the Pegasus and Haskell against mediocre horses, yet again...and gets blown away against the top dogs, yet again.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Verazzano is like the schoolyard bully who kicks butt when nobody stands up to him but when he faces real challenges he tends to fold it up. He had a great chance on Saturday with that slow pace and Palace Malice not breaking well and he still got dusted by Moreno. Plus it is blatantly obvious he has distance limitations.
Mark More than 1 year ago
That only helps confirm he wasn't himself. EVERY other time he got that trip he exploded at about the mile .Saturday he had no response. The mile. They went 6 in 1:13. I would agree 100% if he exploded per usual at the mile . Opened up on moreno by5 and was ccaught inside the 1/16 by WTC that he may have distance issues. He did not lose Saturday because he can't get 1 1/4. That much is obvious. He did not fire for whatever reason. That is disappointing to me as a fan that we didn't get his a game. That's horse racing. Also disappointing that pm stumbled. He of the horses who did runwas much the best in there on that day.
Mark More than 1 year ago
He beat the Derby runner up in Haskell by 17. He obviously didn't run a step in Travers. He beat the grade 1 bluegrass winner who beat pm in there in Tampa derby. He beat Normandy invasion in the wood. He didn't fire . Plain and simple. Two grade ones . Onegrade two.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Mark, seriously dude give it a rest...be a man, admit you were wrong and move on. You said Orb had NO shot at winning, yet he was 3/4 length from winning off a layoff. How many times do you need to see Verrazano lose at a Mile 1/4 to realize he isn't bred to go that long. He's outstanding up to a Mile 1/8, that's it!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Did Orb win ? No. Easy . Simple . Are you making an excuse? Yes. Easy . Simple. Verrazano did not run one mile . Let alone another 1/4. His Haskell shows the distance a non factor.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Daniel you honestly think Verrazano ran to his ability in the Travers ? That was the best he's got ? Give me a break.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
HOKY BULL! And I'm not referring to the big grey horse! You flat out said WTC had NO CHANCE! REPEATEDLY!!!! You screamed Verrazano would win. So to sit here and say you CASHED is a complete contradiction to ALL of your HUNDREDS of comments prior to Travers. And I truelly don't give a rats behind about your assessment of ORb..who most know ran tremendously off the lay off and ran uncharacteristic inside of horses the whole race! Verrazano will NEVER. NEVER. NEVER win at 1 1/4. You're making yourself appear more and more ignorant with these posts. MOVE FORWARD TO CROSS TRAFFIC and PAYNTER in Woodward for your own good. ORB as of now would win ECLIPSE while Verrazano is going WHERE? Todd is trying to find out that very question? Sprints? Middle distance? Cigar Mile? Farm!!!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Lol big Thom. I said repeatedly that ORB had no chance and that WTC would beat ORB . Who finished in front of who Thom? Simple WTC . I was 100% correct. I guess you knowNOTHING of the matchup wager. SO to comment that I did not cash is comical. I cashed AGAIN beating orb as I did in the Preakness keying imld up and down . YYour beloved also ran was again beat and yet another excuse. So big Thom tell me why doeshe needed the race fly for you but Verrazano simply not firing not a legit excuse for you. Are you really in the belief that Verrazano ran his A race in the Travers ? If so you are indeed foolish. You honestly believe he was spent going 1:13 for 6 f ? If so you are a fool.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I also said repeatedly if Verrazano runs back to his Haskell he crushes. He did not. I said repeatedly distance was an issue. He did not lose Saturday due to distance. He had nothing after a mile. I read he had a slight back right tendon strain . Maybe that was it . Whatever the reason is he was clearly not right . He did not run one step in there.
Mark More than 1 year ago
* distance WAS NOT an issue
Kimberly Martin More than 1 year ago
ha ha! Freudian slip there Mark?
Mark More than 1 year ago
BTW we will see him in the classic if all how's well. :)
Mark More than 1 year ago
Goes
Mark More than 1 year ago
I did say WTC had no shot that being if v fired his a race. He did not. I ALSO SAID REPEATEDLY THATCWTC WOULD BEAT ORB ! .100% CORRECT ! Thank you for coming.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Alsothom I think we will see a much better effort from the reigning BC champ in the Woodward.
Mark More than 1 year ago
please name one graded stake winner @ 3 other than orb that ran in The Florida derby and the Fountain of Youth. I'll help you. There isn't one out of either race. Not 1 . Throw out the perfect storm of the derby and your horse has not won a race vs any kindof quality field. Fact.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
It was an EARLY DERBY PREP. Before Louisiana Derby,Before Wood, before Keeneland, Before Tampa Derby. This point you keep screaming makes no sense. Everyone loved Violence who he beat, Itsmyluckyday who he beat, the BC and juvenile champ who he beat ...and he beat EVERYONE in the biggest 3 year old race in Kentucky Derby. Graded winners from all over world! Very bad reference point Mark. AS USUAL.
Mark More than 1 year ago
So Thomas you did not name 1 graded stake winner at 3. Fact. And my point has always been the derby is a toss and it was a perfect storm . Only way he won. All everyone on near is saying is v beat nobody. When in FACT his races are stronger fields. With more graded winners. Minus the speed meltdown and slop filled derby.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Mark, was I wrong about Orb winning? Yeah, but unlike you I'm NOT making excuses for him. Compare the way Orb and PM ran despite their unfavorable circumstances that day, to the way V ran on a perfect trip. Orb and PM had excuses and they almost won while Verrazano had NO excuses and he folded. Plus remember I picked the top 4 finishers days prior to the race.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I like that you have accepted the fact orb ran his race and lost . No excuse. I agree pm was the best on that day. I am not making an excuse for v. He didn't fold after 1:13. He never ran a step in there. Period.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
You say "No Excuses" for Verrazano and you keep repeating how he didn't run a step but you don't explain why. You still fail to realized it's because of his distance limitations and tougher competition. Anyway I'm done, agree to disagree I guess, no hard feelings here dude and good luck to you in the future.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Thanks Daniel . Same to you. Here's to great debates and great horse racing.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to it!
Perl More than 1 year ago
Well I for one admire your stubbornness, Mark.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Ha ! Thanks Perl. Hoping to see us all back at Santa Anita in a couple months .
Perl More than 1 year ago
I would recommend you try to tone down the heavy smack though, brau. It will give you more credibility. Obviously you know a few things about horseracing, but I think people view you as a tad over the top. Then again it is entertaining, so feel free to disregard this advice.
Kimberly Martin More than 1 year ago
Well said Perl. I thought he was going to stroke out reading some of his posts.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Honey BOO BOO is less annoying
Mark More than 1 year ago
Love or hate I told all of you orb had zero shot and WTC would beat him. Just 1 of manycorrect posts / winners iI have given over the past year.
Mark More than 1 year ago
And Thomas must be a sad sad life if boo boo is in the regular rotation . Just say in.
Mark More than 1 year ago
MarkLess than a minute ago An error has occurred, please try again later (500026) As far as credibility the only thing that matters is my bankroll. Anyone on here can toss or take my opinions. Its all in good fun. Talking smavk is just that. Entertaining.
jay More than 1 year ago
Unbelievable handicapping, Mark. I'm sure everyone would love to know how much you won on the race.
Mark More than 1 year ago
More than you on orb.
Bryan Horn More than 1 year ago
3 year old rankings: 1. Palace Malice 2. Orb 3. Will Take Charge 4. Verrazano 5. Oxbow 6. Moreno; PM was the best horse in the Travers; flat-footed, Smith should have sent him earlier, closed like a train and he will win again this year. Orb still has to get credit for Jan through May; WTC is on the up-tick and has an early-year win too. 'Zano was exposed but he did win the Wood and the Haskell. Oxbow is gritty and hard not to like but the Preakness was a fluke and Moreno is exciting; still think he's a miler though.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
So the Belmont trumps the Kentucky Derby, the Jim Dandy trumps the Florida Derby and the FOY means nothing......OK. You need some in a bad way Mr. Horn.
Guy John More than 1 year ago
Not to start conspiracy theories BUT it's a little fishy how WTC all of the sudden wakes up and runs lights out after running in all 3 triple crown races. PM is by far the best 3 yr old and should be #1. Mike should have moved PM up earlier on the backside with them going 49 and 1:13.
jay More than 1 year ago
Handicapping 101: some horses improve as they get older and some horses don't.
DA More than 1 year ago
Unbelievable . The horse has run 5 good races this year 2 in Arkansas 2 at Saratoga and 1 in Kentucky. If Verrazano doesn't back up in the Derby or Court moves WTC outside sooner we are probably talking about what a great race he ran to win the Derby. At worst he and Orb run 1-2. But the super horse Verrazano folds in the same spot he did Saturday and WTC looses all chance in the Derby. Jockey had him too far back in the Jim Dandy and he was still getting to PM. Closer to the pace in the Travers, new rider and he kept him in the clear. You put Orb, PM, & WTC within a length of each other at the quarter pole and WTC beats them every time. He's never going to win by 5-6 lengths but put him in a fight and he knows where the line is.
kc m More than 1 year ago
the NYRA has released the meds lists for the travers--once again, orb was the only horse running clean (moreno was originally listed as clean too, but a revised sheet was released showing he was medicated). if we take all the bute away from his competitors, do we get the same results? i some how doubt it...
Mark More than 1 year ago
Dies it have the list from fair hill ?
Richard More than 1 year ago
IMO Palace Malice is, if not "cemented" as the leader of the divsion, the best horse. He's a May foal who has had one (sneaky) bad race where he ran off. He's shown route dimensions of being on the lead, near it, or (now) a closer. Many could argue he was best in the Travers; broke bad, tepid pace, and running over horses in the final yards. It seems Shug (who doesn't like Shug?) has it down to a numbered science. Since he beat Palace 2 of 3 trys he's got the vote. Is he kidding? Not to take anything away from ORB, a very good horse, he trained up to the Travers as Shug thought best, while Palace virtually raced into it. That being said, NO EXCUSES, "except" that P Malace was the only horse WITH an EXCUSE in the running. To say that an exhausted nose difference in the finish of their face-off gives ORB the edge is absurd and seems more like something Lukas would have said years ago.
kc m More than 1 year ago
head to head records have always counted in the voting for eclipse awards. how can they not--it's not logical to say that the horse that has lost more times to another horse, is better than the horse he has lost to.
jay More than 1 year ago
Head to head means nothing unless one of the horses actually won the race. The pace, race set-up, post position and troubled trips can favor one horse over another in a particular race. But unless one of them wins the race, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't prove who is the better horse.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Well said. I don't care about divisional honors (at this point, Orb deserves the nod), but Palace Malice is clearly the best 3yo colt in the country and was best on Saturday. Brutal beat for those of us who were sitting on the P4 with him (ahem). I am very excited about his fall campaign and would love to see him in the BC Classic, where with a good break, his tactical speed and wonderful distance breeding would make him an interesting candidate to stalk and pounce. The question is if Todd can keep him together after a long, tough campaign.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
If that's true that's not good. Right hind is primary strength in holding turns. And tendons are tricky with horses. TIME and REST.
Michele More than 1 year ago
Who has a strained tendon?
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Mark says Verrazano. But he likes to make excuses when he's wrong
Mark More than 1 year ago
Please Thom share your excuse why your beloved also ran orb did not win ?
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Layoff and ran inside horses the entire race where he WAS uncomfortable. Yet still showed maturity by competing and just getting beat.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Man I have to say it again E. Guillet almost won the TRAVERS wow !! I personally think ORB is the best 3 yr.old and will be confirmed unless Palice Malice or other can beat him on square. INTERESTING finish
Perl More than 1 year ago
Orb had a perfect trip yesterday and barely held third over a horse who had a horrible trip. Orb is not a bad horse but his peers have surpassed him.
kc m More than 1 year ago
orb again was the only horse in race running clean--the NYRA as the meds sheets up.
Perl More than 1 year ago
huh?
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I humbly disagree. He ran off a near 90 day rest. Ran inside gamely until he tired late. I think he showed improvement with that. And also, rail wasn't best place to be in late races. Watch how most jocks stayed outside in 3-4 paths.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Back right tendon strain. Hopefully rest and train up to BC .
Michele More than 1 year ago
Who has a tendon strain?
Scott More than 1 year ago
Shug's logic is sound when determining that Orb is currently the leader of the 3 year old pack. If the first half of the season counts for anything anymore, Palace Malice really needs to turn the tables on Orb head to head in his final two races of the season (presumably the JCGC & the BCC) for him to have a legitimate chance at 3 year old honors. I'm glad they seem to be heading toward that path, because these two are the most talented runners in the Division in my mind. Will Take Charge would need to finish the season with wins in the PA Derby (hope that Orb and Palace Malice fail to hit the board against older horses in the JCGC) and then he'd still have to win the BCC to win the Division in my mind. He might have been 8 or 9 to 1 when he won the Travers, but I think his odds are much longer to win the Division.
The Truth More than 1 year ago
Every horse race in this Country has some form of cheating involved...if you think otherwise you have horse manure for brains!