Will Take Charge resolute in Smarty Jones S. win
In a stretch run befitting his name, Will Take Charge forged to victory in the $150,000 Smarty Jones S. Jan. 21 at Oaklawn to put the 3-year-old Unbridled's Song colt on the Triple Crown trail (VIDEO
). Unbridled's Song is nearing 100 stakes winners in his brilliant stud career; in 2012, he accounted for seven stakes winners, including the Grade 1 winners Emcee and Honor Vivian, and nearly $6 million in progeny earnings.
Breaking from post nine of nine, Will Take Charge was swung six wide into the first turn and settled into third, just a length from the front, as Avare led through an opening half mile in :46.65. Still racing four wide after six furlongs in 1:11.89, Jon Court set his mount down for the drive. With Texas Bling driving to his inside, Will Take Charge would not let his foe pass, winning by a neck in 1:38.64 for one mile on a fast track.
“This is unbelievable,” said owner Willis D. Horton. “He had kind of a rough race. It’s remarkable that he could still win. We’ve thought highly of him since we got him. We look forward to going forward with him, hopefully to the (Kentucky) Derby.”
Court said the difference today from when he last rode Will Take Charge in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) Nov. 24 was his mental state.
“He had his mind on winning today,” said Court. “In his last race at Churchill (Kentucky Jockey Club), he was hot and excited. Today, he was calm, cool and collected.”
The winner is out of the multiple Grade 1 winning mare Take Charge Lady and a half-brother to 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. The Smarty Jones was his second victory from five starts and he has now earned $184,171.
The next race in Oaklawn’s 3-year-old Derby prep series is the $300,000 Southwest S. (G3) Presidents' Day, Feb. 18.