Travers Stakes winner Will Take Charge leads a field of eight 3-year-olds into Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. The 1 1/8-mile stakes is the co-feature with the $1 million Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Will Take Charge, owned by Willis Horton, will start from the far outside post with Luis Saez returning to ride for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 78-year-old Lukas has never saddled a winner of the PA Derby.
Will Take Charge, 9-1 on the tote board, was a surprise winner of the Travers on Aug. 24 even after his second-place finish behind Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.
"This is a horse that's gonna get better. He's getting his act together. I feel comfortable where I got him," Lukas stated after the Travers.
Will Take Charge began the year by winning the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Remaining at the Arkansas track, the colt finished sixth in the Southwest, but came back to win the Rebel Stakes.
Lukas then trained him up to the Kentucky Derby where he finished eighth. Two weeks later in the Preakness, Will Take Charge was seventh and then 10th in the Belmont Stakes.
The 3-year-old has career earnings of $1,265,371 with four wins in 12 starts.
Blue Grass Stakes champ Java's War will be making his first start in more than two months on Saturday. Trained by Barclay Tagg, the colt will be ridden by Julien Leparoux from post 5.
Java's War, owned by Charles Fipke, was previously trained by Ken McPeek, but was sent to Tagg the middle of last month.
This year, Java's War was second to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby prior to winning the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 13. He finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby at 21-1, but came back on July 4 to finish fourth in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.
Java's War has won three of nine lifetime starts and $681,091.
Here is the complete PA Derby field in post position order: Speak Logistics, Paco Lopez; Transparent, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Moreno, Jose Ortiz; Battier, Angel Castillo; Java's War, Julien Leparoux; Fury Kapcori, Mike Smith; Romansh, Rajiv Maragh and Will Take Charge, Luis Saez. Transparent and Romansh will be coupled in the wagering.
Post-time for the PA Derby will be approximately 5:45 p.m. (ET).