D. Wayne Lukas has to feel pretty good about his two Kentucky Derby hopefuls after they finished first and second in the Rebel Stakes this past weekend at Oaklawn Park. Will Take Charge bolted his way to the top of the Kentucky Derby point standings with a strong finish, as he nipped stable mate Oxbow at the wire.
Bob Baffert’s Super Ninety-Nine broke from the gate a 6-5 favorite and for the first half of the race settled in behind Title Contender, who set the early pace. Before the top the turn, Super Ninety-Nine made a move on the leader and pushed ahead, with a pack of three stalking the leaders. At the top of the stretch, Super Ninety-Nine, Oxbow, and Den’s Legacy put some distance between themselves and the field. Oxbow and Den’s Legacy continue to push ahead, leaving Super Ninety-Nine who was tiring, while Will Take Charge was making a ferocious move from the outside. Oxbow looked like the winner, but was overtaken by Will Take Charge, who led for all of 10 yards in the race, but that was enough to earn 50 more points towards the Derby Championship Series Standings. Oxbow finished a strong second with Den’s Legacy crossing the wire third.
The victory puts Will Take Charge on top of the Derby Standings with 60 total points, and Oxbow improved his position by moving to 36 points. Will Take Charge has won two of his last three starts, including a victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes, with a sixth place finish in the Southwest Stakes sandwiched between the victories. Lukas has to be pleased with the progress of his colts moving forward as both have proven that they are up to the distance and competition. Will Take Charge could be headed to the Bluegrass Stakes as his final Kentucky Derby tune up, with Oxbow staying at Oaklawn to run in the Arkansas Derby.