Will Take Charge, the champion 3-year-old male of 2013, has been retired to stand stud at Three Chimneys Farm after suffering a mild strain to a branch of his suspensory apparatus, it was announced Sunday afternoon. A fee for 2015 will be announced at a later date.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Will Take Charge had been prepping for a start in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on September 27 and had posted a bullet move at Churchill Downs on September 10, covering five furlongs in 1:00.40.
“Will Take Charge’s retirement is particularly disappointing as we were primed, as an older horse, to win the Classic this year which we lost by a whisker last year,” Lukas said in a release. “This horse has done what few other horses can do any more. He defeated the best 3-year-olds in the country in the Travers and then the best older horses in the Classic. He is a true champion who ran to his blue-blooded pedigree.”
His 17-plus hand, chromed out frame and striking face made Will Take Charge a distinctive specimen on the racetrack. By Unbridled’s Song and out of 2013 Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, the 4-year-old chestnut set himself apart with his durability and late-blooming talent during his sophomore season.
Despite finishing off-the-board in all three Triple Crown races, Will Take Charge moved himself to the head of the 3-year-old class last season with victories in the Grade I Travers Stakes and Grade II Pennsylvania Derby before finishing just a lip behind Mucho Macho Man in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.
Though denied that day, Will Take Charge came back with a championship-clinching victory over older horses – including multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude – in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs last November 29, his 11th start of 2013.
“He is a different kind of Unbridled’s Song,” Lukas said of the colt. “He proved himself to be the best of his generation. He is a proud addition to my resume.”
Will Take Charge opened 2014 with runner-up finishes in the Grade I Donn and Santa Anita Handicaps and was most recently third in the Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 2. His lone win in six starts this year came when he captured the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 12.
Co-owned by Willis Horton, who sold a 50 percent interest in Will Take Charge to Three Chimneys in December, Will Take Charge retires with seven wins from 21 career starts and earnings of $3,924,648. He had finished on the board in ten of his last 11 races.
“Will Take Charge is a horse of a lifetime, and I can’t say enough about how “hickory” he has been, starting 21 times all across the country against the stiffest competition time after time,” Horton said. “We have had the time of our lives with him, and met wonderful people
all across America. He’s been a real fan favorite, and we think he’ll be a Kentucky breeders’ favorite too. I also can’t compliment Wayne enough on developing this exceptionally talented horse into a Champion. It’s been one heck of a ride.”
Added Three Chimneys chairman, Gonçalo Borges Torrealba “As we forge a new path forward at Three Chimneys, we feel very fortunate to announce that a champion like Will Take Charge will help us write the next chapter in the farm’s storied history whose foundation as a stallion operation was built on the shoulders of such towering breed changers as Seattle Slew, Dynaformer, Rahy, and the like.”