Lukas colts Will Take Charge, Oxbow complete Derby
Calumet Farm’s Oxbow, ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, and Willis Horton’s Will
Take Charge, with exercise rider Rudy Quevedo aboard, had five-furlong workouts
at Churchill Downs Monday morning for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Oxbow’s time was :59 4/5, the fastest of 34 workouts at the distance. His
fractions were 11 4/5, :23 2/5, :35 1/5, and :47 2/5, and he galloped out six
furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
Will Take Charge’s time was 1:01, the 12th fastest of the morning. His
fractions were :11 3/5, 23 1/5 and 35 1/5. Will Take Charge galloped out six
furlongs in 1:17 2/5.
“A work’s a work,”‘ Lukas said. “I’ve always said we put a little too much
emphasis on works. When you do it at eight in the morning, it’s a lot different
from the afternoon, but it’s a barometer of where you’re at with a horse in a
lot of ways. As a trainer you get a chance to evaluate maybe the energy level of
where you’re at, the soundness, all the things that go into maybe winning the
“I don’t get caught into it so much, but I told Gary in the tack room here, I
said, ’59 and four to a minute would fit me today,’ and that’s my opinion — I
didn’t discuss it with the horse at all — and he hit it right on the head,
which I know is an accident, but it was good.
“Will, I thought worked a little bit slower, but Rudy was afraid. I’d pretty
much beat up on him in there about going too fast this close (to the race), so
less is always better. Always better. If you’re going to err on any side of a
work, you always err on the slow side, never err on the fast side.”
Stevens, 50, will be riding in his 19th Derby but first since 2005. In
January, Stevens came out of seven-year retirement.
His three Derby victories include two for Lukas — on Winning Colors in 1988
and Thunder Gulch in 2005. Silver Charm (1997) was Stevens’ other Derby winner.
“The experience factor — you cannot downplay it in this one, with 20 horses
especially,'” Lukas said of having Stevens on Oxbow. “I would be very concerned
in the race about somebody that had never ridden one. There are some in there,
and I’m not second-guessing Doug O’Neill with a first-time guy, or anybody else.
But experience is big.”
“It never gets old,”‘ Stevens said of participating in the Derby. “It’s no
different than from when I was here for my first Derby, except I know what it’s
all about. I don’t prepare for it any differently now than I did was I was 23
years old, but it’s exciting, and it’s exciting going in there knowing you have
Stevens expressed gratitude for the support he has received from trainers and
owners since he returned to riding.
“Wayne called me back in January after I’d ridden for just the first week,
and he said, ‘I’ve got a couple of colts that I think you’ll be wanting to ride
one of them the first Saturday in May.’ And here we are. He’s a Hall of Famer
for a reason, and his record in the Derby speaks for itself.”
Lukas, who was listening, took a wad of bills out of his pocket and acted as
if he would hand money to Stevens. “Don’t let me interrupt, Gary,” Lukas said.
“Just roll with it.”