Will Take Charge

Will Take Charge

Coady Photography

Lukas Weighs Options for Weekend Stakes Stars

Will Take Charge fine after stumble following Smarty Jones victory, trainer reports.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas had some anxious moments when victorious Will Take Charge  stumbled while pulling up after winning the Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 21 at Oaklawn Park, but the Hall of Fame trainer said the colt is doing well.

"He's fine and was fine when we got him back to the barn (Monday) afternoon," said the Hall of Fame conditioner Jan. 23. "He must have just tweaked something pulling up from the race. We jogged him in the shedrow this morning and he's just great."

Will Take Charge, a colt by Unbridled's Song out of Take Charge Lady, scored a hard-fought neck victory over Texas Bling in the $150,000 event for 3-year-olds on Martin Luther King Day. It completed a big weekend for Lukas, whose Oxbow  registered an dominating front-running victory in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Jan. 19.

Both horses earned 10 points toward a possible start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Lukas said he will decide in the coming weeks where each colt will start next. The next two options are Oaklawn's $300,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 18 or the Fair Grounds' $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 23. Another option, Lukas said, is keeping at least one colt out until the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) March 16 at Oaklawn.

"We're kind of in limbo about where to go with these horses, although we're sure going to keep them apart as long as we can," said Lukas. "We're looking ahead at the races at Oaklawn and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. But I'm not likely to run one horse in all four of these races at Oaklawn. On the other hand we have at least one more (horse) that I like, who might be this kind, so we have a lot of options."

Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge, who was ridden by Jon Court, has won two of five starts. Oxbow, a colt by Awesome Again  out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tizamazing, has two wins in six tries for owner Bluegrass Hall.

Meanwhile, Brown Almighty, a disappointing fifth as the second choice in the Smarty Jones, has a severe lung infection, trainer Tim Ice confirmed.

"He scoped a five out of five," Ice said of the stakes-winning son of Big Brown . Brown Almighty was making his dirt debut in the Smarty Jones after a successful 2-year-old campaign spent mainly in turf races.

"It was really frustrating because he never showed me any signs of it before the race," said Ice. "We got him back to the wash stall and he coughed twice standing there. We scoped him and it was pretty severe."

Ice said Brown Almighty would be treated with antibiotics. Next-race plans are on hold, but the Southwest Stakes or the Risen Star have not been ruled out, depending on how quickly the illness clears.

"We want to run in the Southwest, but it's going to be a matter of how much time he needs," said Ice.

Tri-Star Racing, Joe B. Denson, and Brent Gasaway own the good-looking chestnut colt, a winner of two of six starts with two seconds. Brown Almighty captured the Sunny's Halo Stakes at Louisiana Downs last August. He finished the year with back-to-back runner-up efforts in the Sunday Silence Stakes and the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT), and was ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT).