Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Will Take Charge, the 9-1 fourth choice, made a late move down the stretch to win Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
The 1 1/4-mile "Mid-Summer Derby" was expected to be a showdown between leading 3-year-olds Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy champ Palace Malice and Haskell winner Verrazano.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Luis Saez, Will Take Charge made a late surge down the stretch to catch pacesetter Moreno and post a nose victory over the 31-1 longshot.
"I changed up a bit," Lukas said following his third win in the race. "I took a chance on an up and coming rider. These are so tough, I mean their so tough. About at the 3/8ths pole I thought we'll get a piece of it, but I didn't know if we'd get up."
Finishing third, after moving through along the rail, was Orb with Palace Malice making a rally to get fourth. Orb went off as the 3-1 third pick in the nine-horse field with jockey Jose Lezcano filling in for the injured Joel Rosario. Palace Malice was the 2-1 second choice. Verrazano, the 8-5 favorite, faded after pressing the pace.
Rounding out the order of finish were Romansh, War Dancer, Verrazano, Golden Soul and Transparent.
The time for the 144th Travers was 2:02.68 on a fast track.
Will Take Charge, owned by Willis Horton, was representing his trainer's barn while Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow is recovering from an injury and will not race again this year.
A chestnut colt, Will Take Charge, was coming off a second-place finish behind Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga four weeks ago. The 3-year- old adds $600,000 to his earnings which now total $1,265,371 with four wins in 12 career starts.
"He's a little over 17 hands, he's just starting to find himself," Lukas noted. "This is a horse that's gonna get better. He's getting his act together. I feel comfortable where I got him."
Will Take Charge began the year by winning the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Remaining at the Arkansas track, the colt finished sixth in the Southwest, but came back to win the Rebel Stakes.
Lukas then trained him up to the Kentucky Derby where he finished eighth. Two weeks later in the Preakness, Will Take Charge was seventh and then 10th in the Belmont Stakes.
The Hall of Fame trainer previously won the Travers with Corporate Report (1991) and Thunder Gulch (1995).
Will Take Charge returned $21.20, $8.60 and $5.20. Moreno paid $25.40 and $9.80, and Orb paid $4.30 to show.
08/24 19:39:18 ET