For Immediate Release: Saturday, September 21, 2013
WILL TAKE CHARGE RALLIES TO WIN $1 MILLION PA DERBY Close Hatches Outstanding in Winning G1 Cotillion
Throughout the spring classics, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas looked for the talent he knew he had in a big colt named Will Take Charge. Despite being a non-factor in all three Triple Crown races, Lukas was not deterred. Coming back off a freshening after the Belmont Stakes, with some added maturity and the removal of blinkers, the Unbridled’s Song colt has been a different horse. After a fast closing second to Belmont winner Palice Malice in the G2 Jim Dandy, he went out and won the biggest race of the summer, the G1 Travers at Saratoga and Saturday at Parx Racing he continued his winning ways with a dramatic rally to win the $1 million G2 Pennsylvania Derby.
Starting on the outside of a field of eight three year-olds, Will Take Charge, always a late running type, got away well and found himself fifth on the outside around the first turn and sitting a relatively close four lengths back. With the expected front runner Moreno setting the pace prompted by west coast invader Fury Kapcori, the fractions were strong, 23.35 and 46.74. But heading to the far turn, not much had changed yet for Will Take Charge. With three furlong to go, he was still fifth and about four lengths behind and now 17-1 shot Battier was making a big run from the back of the pack on the far outside. Trapped behind the leaders at the top of the stretch and Battier still rolling on the outside, winning jockey Luis Saez had no option but to go inside and he immediately found room down at the rail. At that point, Will Take Charge just exploded. He shot through on the inside and roared to the lead just inside the eighth pole. Battier tried to sustain his wide rally and Moreno fought valiantly, but Will Take Charge was striding away and was not going to be denied. He was quickly clear of the field as they came to mid-stretch and rolled home almost two and a half lengths in front. Off as the betting favorite at 2-1, he paid $6.60, 3.80 and 2.80. Moreno (3-1) fought back to reclaim second and paid 3.80 and 2.80. Battier, the longest price on the board, finished a respectable third and paid 6.80. The final time for the mile and an eighth on a track labeled fast was 1:49.28. While Lukas had won virtually every important race in America over his legendary career, this was his first in the 34 year history of the Pennsylvania Derby.
The $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes for three year-old fillies went convincingly to Juddmonte Farm’s Close Hatches. The First Defence filly had won the G1 Mother Goose back in June at Belmont Park and came into the race as the filly to beat and was sent off by the public as the 8-5 betting favorite. She would not disappoint. Under Hall of Famer Mike Smith, she raced into the first turn with a clear three wide path, sitting just to the outside of her two main rivals, the unbeaten Sweet Lulu and the tough My Happy Face. Heading up the backstretch, the three big fillies would find themselves lined up across the track with five furlongs to run. Sweet Lulu had the inside, My Happy Face was in between and Close Hatches was on the outside. Through fractions of 23.87 and 47.24, the three were still together past the half mile pole when finally My Happy Face began to slowly retreat. That left the battle now between Sweet Lulu and Close Hatches. Rounding the far turn, Close Hatches began to get the advantage. Going slightly better, she hit the top of the stretch and her lead was now a full length. Smith kept her busy down the lane as she continued to widen her margin while the others were now battling for second. She hit the wire a clear two lengths in front, winning the second Grade 1 race of her three year-old season. The win gave Hall of Famer Bill Mott his second Cotillion victory having won the 2003 edition with Fast Cookie. Close Hatches paid $5.20, 3.00 and 2.60. Sweet Lulu (3-1) ran gamely in her first defeat but was simply not the measure of her rival, running second and returning 3.80 and 3.40. Street Girl (25-1) made a good late run for third and paid 5.40. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth was 1:44.03.
The $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes produced the shock of the day. 30-1 shot City of Weston, racing for Cloud Nine Lumoni, recovered from difficulty in the stretch to charge through late on the inside and upset the field of three year-old sprinters. The Holy Bull colt sat on the inside in the second flight of horses behind the wicked pace set by Canadian Black Hornet who zipped through fractions of 21.43 and 43.70. Trying to make a run between horses coming to mid-stretch, City of Weston found the hole shut off by the rallying Clearly Now. Winning jockey Paco Lopez calmly steered his colt back to the clear inside and kept his colt going, striking the front inside the final sixteenth. Edging out late, City of Weston went on to win by three-quarters of a length to capture the first stakes win of his career. Trained by Antonio Sano, the long shot returned mutuels of $63.00, 20.80 and 8.00. Clearly Now (2-1 favorite) loomed the winner in mid-stretch, but got out finished to run second and paid 4.00 and 3.20. Black Hornet (12-1) managed to stay on and hold third, returning 5.60. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09. 63.