A nose loss to Mucho Macho Man in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (Grade I) at Santa Anita Park by Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge might not be the late-blooming sophomore's final race of the season.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who guided the son of Unbridled's Song through an impressive second half of 2013 that included victories in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), said Nov. 6 that Will Take Charge could wrap up his year in the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Lukas described Will Take Charge as "possible" for the Clark. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has also said veteran handicap contender Game On Dude is "possible" for the 1 1/8-mile event as well. Game On Dude finished ninth in the Classic.
The 139th edition of the Clark, a race for 3-year-olds and up, will be run in its traditional Friday-after-Thanksgiving spot on Nov. 29.
"We may run him one more time, since it's a grade I," Lukas said. "I think we're in good shape anyhow. Most people I've talked to in the press think he's champion (3-year-old male). If he wins the Clark, it would probably put the icing on the cake."
Lukas said Will Take Charge would be nominated to the Clark prior to the Nov. 13 deadline. Other runners currently nominated to the Clark include Taptowne, Easter Gift, Voodoo Storm, and Wine Princess.
The runner-up finish in the Classic by Will Take Charge left the colt's career record to 5-3-0 in 14 races and boosted his earnings to $2,727,371.
"It broke my heart," Lukas said of the loss. "I just stood there and said, 'How could he get that close and not win it?' (Belmont Stakes winner) Palace Malice cost us the race. He bore us out real bad, bumped us and pushed us way out on the turn and we had to recover from that."
A victory in the Clark Handicap wrapped up an Eclipse Award championship for a Lukas star in 2000. After Overbrook Farm's Surfside finished second to Lukas-trained stablemate Spain in that year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill, Lukas wheeled the regally-bred daughter of 1978 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Flanders back against males in that year's Clark, which was then a grade II event.
She won the Clark by four lengths to conclude a campaign for which she was named the year's champion 3-year-old filly.
Meanwhile, Lukas said 2-year-old star Strong Mandate is not a candidate for the $175,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Nov. 30. Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack's son of Tiznow finished third to New Year's Day in last Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita.