The Travers Stakes – run August 24, 2013 – was decisive but still left a few questions about the three favorite contenders who, at best, were left wanting. To be certain, Will Take Charge blasted to victory, winning by barely a nose over hard-running Moreno. It was a thrilling race ending in a photo finish between Will Take Charge and Moreno, with Orb holding onto third place.
Certainly, winning the Travers filled the coffers of the victor. The Grade I Travers Stakes was a $1 million race.
The three favorite colts were Grade I winner Orb, Grade II winner Palace Malice and Grade I winner Verrazano. Only Orb made it into the money, coming in as the third runner. Pulling into fourth place was Palace Malice. Verrazano, favored at 8-5, ran a tired seventh place out of nine entries.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, the strapping blaze-faced chestnut colt Will Take Charge - by Unbridled’s Song out of multiple Grade I winner Take Charge Lady - bolted up to nose ahead of Moreno in the nick of time, giving him the victory. He race record is now at four wins, two seconds from 11 starts. His earnings are up to well over the million mark at $1,265,371.
It feels pretty good. I changed up a few things. I took a chance on an up-and-coming rider. I thought my horse trained well, but these things are so tough. At the three-eighths pole, I thought we'll get a piece of it, but I didn't know if we'd get up.
He's a little over 17 hands and just starting to find himself. This is a horse who's going to get better. He's getting his act together.
Moreno had a great race, starting at 31-1. Jose Ortiz got him into the lead through an easy quarter mile in :24.40. At the half mile, he clocked :48.88. He held off Orb’s challenge and nearly took a wire-to-wire win until Will Take Charge nosed just slightly ahead for a photo finish.
Shug McGaughey, Hall of Fame trainer of Orb, believes the colt’s Fair Hill Training Center R&R enabled him to refocus and prepare for the continuation of his three-year-old racing campaign. McGaughey said, "He ran a good race. You can't cry over spilled milk. We got him back on the right track, and now we'll point for something else."
The official time for the race was 2:02.68. The distance run by the horses was 1 1/4-mile and the track was considered fast. Will Take Charge paid $21.20, $8.60, and $5.20. Moreno paid $25.40 and $9.80 and Orb paid $4.30. The rest of the field finished in this order: Palace Malice, Romansh, War Dancer, Verrazano, Golden Soul and Transparent.
Attendance for the 144th Travers was slightly higher than last year with today’s numbers amounting to 47,597. The on-site wagering on the card was up 11 percent over last year for a total of $9,672,249.
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