Will Take Charge , last year's 3-year-old male champion and Horse of the Year finalist, has been retired from racing. He will take up stud duty for the 2015 season at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky.
The horse was retired due to a mild strain to a branch of his suspensory apparatus. Given the horse's value at stud, a decision was made to retire him. A stud fee has not yet been announced.
By Unbridled's Song out of Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, Will Take Charge won seven of 21 starts and earned $3,924,648. During his championship season he made 11 starts in 11 months at eight different tracks, winning the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn in January, the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in March, the Travers Stakes (gr. I) in August, and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) in September. After finishing second, beaten just a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), he topped Game On Dude in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
He made six starts—all in grade I or grade II stakes—this year at 4, winning or hitting the board in five of them.
Bred in Kentucky by Eaton, Will Take Charge was a $425,000 Keeneland September sale yearling. He raced for Willis Horton, who later sold an interest in the colt to Three Chimneys.
"Will Take Charge is a horse of a lifetime," said Horton. "I can't say enough about how 'hickory' he has been, starting 21 times all across the country against the stiffest competition time after time. We have had the time of our lives with him and met wonderful people all across America. He's been a real fan favorite, and we think he'll be a Kentucky breeders' favorite, too.
"I can't compliment Wayne enough on developing this exceptionally talented horse into a champion," Horton continued, referring to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "It's been one heck of a ride."
"Will Take Charge's retirement is particularly disappointing as we were primed, as an older horse, to win the Classic this year, which we lost by a whisker last year," Lukas said. "If the race were a mile and a quarter and two inches, Will Take Charge's career earnings would be at nearly $6 million. This horse has done what few other horses can do any more. He is a different kind of Unbridled's Song. He defeated the best 3-year-olds in the country in the Travers and then the best older horses in the Classic. He is a true champion who ran to his blue-blooded pedigree. He proved himself to be the best of his generation. He is a proud addition to my résumé.
"As we forge a new path forward at Three Chimneys, we feel very fortunate to announce that a champion such as Will Take Charge will help us write the next chapter in the farm's storied history whose foundation as a stallion operation was built on the shoulders of such towering breed changers as Seattle Slew, Dynaformer, Rahy, and the like," said Three Chimneys chairman Gonçalo Borges Torrealba.
"Will Take Charge is a serious racehorse and is an even more important stallion prospect," said Doug Cauthen, vice chairman of the Three Chimneys board. "His body of work on the racetrack is remarkable and unique, and his magnificent pedigree anchors a physical presence that will impress any breeder that sees him. To me, he's as good as it can get."
Listen to comments from Will Take Charge's connections following his Clark H. win.