SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A little tinkering by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas paid off in a big way in the $1 million Travers Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga.
Will Take Charge, with new rider Luis Saez aboard in place of Junior Alvarado, caught 31-1 shot Moreno in the final stride and won the Grade I event for 3-year-olds by a nose. It was the third Travers victory for the 77-year-old Lukas, who previously triumphed with Thunder Gulch (1995) and Corporate Report (1991).
“I changed up a few things,” said Lukas, flashing a broad smile. “I took a chance on an up-and-coming rider. You look terrible if it doesn’t work, but it’s sweet if it does.”
Will Take Charge ran 1¼ miles in 2 minutes, 2.68 seconds and paid $21.20 to win as the fourth betting choice in a field of nine.
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Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished third at 3-1 and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice was fourth at 2-1. Haskell Invitational winner Verrazano, favored at 8-5, was second with a half-mile to run and faded to seventh place.
Will Take Charge made little impact in the Triple Crown races, losing by more than 12 lengths each time. The colt was eighth in the Kentucky Derby, seventh in the Preakness (won by Lukas-trained Oxbow) and 10th in the Belmont.
“He’s getting his act together,” Lukas said.
• In Grade I races at 7 furlongs earlier on the Saratoga card, Sweet Lulu ($5.60 to win) took the Test for 3-year-old fillies and Capo Bastone ($58.50) prevailed in the King’s Bishop for 3-year-olds.