Willis Horton's reigning 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge moved one step closer to his first start at Oaklawn Park this meet by working five furlongs April 1 in 1:01 3/5 over a fast track.
The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt will be seeking his first win of the year in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 12 after runner-up finishes in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park and the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. Last year his victories at Oaklawn in the Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes (gr. II) propelled him to triumphs in the Travers (gr. I), Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), and Clark Handicap (gr. I) following an unsuccesful Triple Crown campaign.
Will Take Charge's stablemate, Strong Mandate
, also worked five furlongs April 1 in preparation for his start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 12, covering the distance in 1:00 4/5. He, too, is seeking his first victory of the year after a second in the Southwest Stakes (gr. II) and a fourth-place finish in the Rebel. Robert Baker and William Mack's Tiznow
colt will get a new rider for the Arkansas Derby in Luis Saez, the regular rider of Will Take Charge.
"We were pleased with both works," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "It was time to get a little more serious now that we're closing in on the main event. They both passed their test and they won't have to do much more as they get closer to race day. Jockey Luis Saez will ride both Strong Mandate and Will Take Charge."
Also working during Oaklawn's dark days was Winchell Thoroughbred's Tapiture
, who went five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 4/5 March 31. The Tapit
colt who won the Southwest Stakes and was second in the Rebel earlier this meet will have the services of Joel Rosario, who replaces Ricardo Santana Jr. in the Arkansas Derby.
When asked what made him chose Rosario for Tapiture, trainer Steve Asmussen replied, "His win in the 2013 Kentucky Derby."