12/12/2013 11:03AM

Will Take Charge may begin year in Donn; stud deal 'imminent'

Tom Keyser
Will Take Charge is in light training at Oaklawn Park. His early season objectives may include the Donn and the Santa Anita Handicap.

Will Take Charge is in light training at Oaklawn Park and could make his first start as a 4-year-old in the Feb. 8 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said early Thursday from Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark.

Lukas said owner Willis Horton has kept him abreast of negotiations in a possible partial sale of Will Take Charge to a breeding farm and that a deal appears imminent. Horton and Lukas already have announced the colt definitely will race next year.

Will Take Charge not only is the prohibitive favorite for a 2013 Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old division, but Lukas said he believes the colt also should be included in the discussion for Horse of the Year, for which Wise Dan is considered a big favorite to repeat. Eclipse ballots are due in early January.

“I’d certainly hope [the media] takes a close look at him for Horse of the Year,” said the 78-year-old Hall of Fame trainer. “We took everybody on at their racetrack, on their terms, in their arena. I do know that some people are planning to vote for him.”

Will Take Charge had a sensational second half to 2013, ending with a nose defeat to Mucho Macho Man in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita and a dramatic head victory over Game On Dude in the Nov. 29 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. The Unbridled’s Song colt earned nearly $3 million on the year.

Will Take Charge is part of a full barn of Lukas horses sent recently from Churchill Downs to Oaklawn, which opens its 2014 meet on Jan. 10.

“We’re tracking him every day now just to keep him from tearing the barn down,” said Lukas. “We’ll map out a program real soon, but right off the top of my head we’re going to look at the Donn, probably with the Santa Anita Handicap after that. There’ll be all the logical races down the road – maybe the Pimlico Special, the Whitney, and of course we’ll make a return to the Breeders’ Cup our year-end goal.”

Lukas said Strong Mandate, his top hope for the 2014 Derby, likely will make his 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 17 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. “I’ll probably run him three times [before the Derby], as opposed to four,” he said.

Lukas, who has been mentioned as a potential Eclipse finalist for outstanding trainer, said he is “very flattered about that kind of talk, but as far as an individual award, I never get too caught up in that. I only trained 34 to 36 horses all year, although we did win some races people really want to win. Boy, I’d like to have the 150 head I had back in the ‘80s.”

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Virginia More than 1 year ago
did u skip the whole article or just read his name only and posted ur conclusions
stacy More than 1 year ago
WTC is by Unbridled's Song out of a Dehere mare. Flat Out is by Flatter out of a Cresta Rider mare. How do they have similar breeding??
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Good at the right time MATURITY. He is a 3 yo with tremendous upside in his 4 yo campaign. Expect to hear big things from WTC this year, as he will imprive over the next 6-8 months.
david_juffet More than 1 year ago
I'm just glad that he's coming back to race as a 4yo the handicap division will be that much stronger. The sport needs that.
MIKE MOBLEY More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan --HOY--Hands down!!!
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan horse of the year I have given in, MMM 2nd, POS 3rd, WTC 4th
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Can't believe I'm saying this but, no Game on Dude on your HOY list? LOL!
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Why.....Whenever game On Dude lines up against a QUALITY field, he fades into the sunset. My God, son.....Learn to handicap!
B More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big Wise Dan fan only due to the limited way he is handled, but this isn't even worthy of a serious discussion. I like Lukas too, but he is just touting his horse and that's fine as it's been a long time since he's been a player in the big leagues, but even he knows that this is not ever going to happen. Obviously from some of the posts here, there are some delusional fans here. There is not the remotest chance this could happen after losing all three TC races by 85 lengths. The Travers is a big one, but the Pennsylvania Derby and the Clark aren't exactly up there with our major races. Pretty silly.
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
Yeah, only minor points for winning the Travers this year, considering that it's overall a weak crop of 3yos. The Travers field was pretty unimpressive, though a win is a win. Not much aside from Game On Dude showed up for the Clark either, although again it was a win. But getting thumped so badly in all of the Triple Crown races plus the Southwest (behind several horses that have gone on to do little) should automatically remove WTC from serious HOY contention. IMO, he would be among the worst picks for HOY of all time should he win it. But he won't, since most voters aren't that wacky, thankfully.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Agree that WTC probably won't win HOY...Wise Dan will win by default (again)...but I believe he'll get some votes. However I do believe that if WTC doesn't get a breather soon, his form will tail off very early next year.
iknownothing114 More than 1 year ago
He gets my vote for hoy
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Do his horses ever get FRESHENINGS (LOL) When does a horse get time off (when it breaks down ) 20 starts a year the goal
Pierre Prudhomme More than 1 year ago
Rachel Alexandra was never the same after her "freshening". The B.C. juvenile winners never seem to recover from their winter "freshening". Lukas is not afraid to run his horses at any track against any horse. For racing sportsmanship, he is the best! If he had trained Rachel A. we would have had the dream matchup with Zenyatta. The time for a freshening is probably when a horse is not running well.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
I see your point and respect Lukas immensely as a trainer/sportsmen,legend, etc. (IMO) He pushes the envelope in some situations that would have required a conservative approach and I don't see that with this barn-EVER. It is absolutely a Business first mentality at the cost of the animal/athlete at times. We all are aware of this situation. I respect the competitive nature but were dealing with a fragile athlete which is always one bad step away from injury.
Diana Levy More than 1 year ago
Rachel was never the same after being all out to win the Woodward. Her "freshening" was necessary as they reached her bottom in that race. It didn't help that Assmussen admitted that he wrapped her up in bubble wrap instead of actually treating her like a racehorse. She didn't get a real break at the end of 2009 (she was just kept with his stable at the track where he could keep an eye on her instead of letting her down to give her mental break as well as physical) and then brought back into proper training with a true goal in mind.
Richard Bombik More than 1 year ago
WTC grew up and became something very special. But for Saez going 6 wide in the short stretch at the Classic, we would be talking about the horse of the year for 2013. Looking forward to following this champion next year.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Stop blaming Saez...in racing, it's not always about the horse or jockey...racing luck just wasn't on their side that day.
Richard Bombik More than 1 year ago
WTC deserves a better rider than Saez. Period.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Saez is a head bob from being undefeated on WTC along with 3yr old champ and HOY...what more can you ask from a rider? He's an up and coming rider who is not far from elite status...just wait and see.
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Good horses overcome obsticles, such as slow pace, going wide and bad trips. Look at the great ones. They all had the ability to PUT THEMSELVES IN A POSITION TO WIN. When you have a stone cold closer.....the wide trip is going to happen.
Howard Schwartz More than 1 year ago
Will Take Charge 3YO and Horse of Year. Lukas Eclipse winner. He has forgotten more than 99% of trainers know.
James Madden More than 1 year ago
He earned his reputation as a break down artist...And being cheap!!!
IRANIANMULLAH More than 1 year ago
send him to a farm for a 3 month vacation. geez. He's a great horse. I think he matured and got stronger vs the spring version of Will Take Charge. I'll never forget his Travers move and late charge in the classic.... I wonder what he would look like on Polytrack. He has a strong losing kick and can rate Animal Kingdom proved we can win on that stuff if we train on it.