Will Take Charge, gritty winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes, gave the D. Wayne Lukas some anxious moments after he stumbled pulling up.
But the trainer says all is well.
“He’s fine and was fine when we got him back to the barn that afternoon,” said Lukas. “He must have just tweaked something pulling up from the race. We jogged him in the shedrow this morning, and he’s just great.”
Lukas will decide in the coming weeks where each of his 3-year-old stakes winners will start next. Two days before the Smarty Jones, Lukas won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes with Oxbow. Jon Court rode each race for the trainer. The next two options are the Grade III Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18 or the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 23.
“We’re kind of in limbo about where to go with these horses, although we’re sure going to keep them apart as long as we can,” said Lukas. “We’re looking ahead at the races at Oaklawn and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. But I’m not likely to run one horse in all four of these races at Oaklawn. On the other hand, we have at least one more that I like, who might be this kind, so we have a lot of options.”
Whiting Assesses Officer Alex
Trainer Lynn Whiting said that he “can’t be mad” at Officer Alex after what he said were handful of things went wrong in his sixth-place finish in the Smarty Jones, beaten 13 1/4 lengths by Will Take Charge. Officer Alex was looking to build on a victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes and was a respectable fourth-choice in the the Smarty Jnoes betting. Moments after the gates opened, things went wrong.
“He sort of missed the break right off,” said Whiting. “Then he ended up four wide, and when he came with his big run, he appears to have forgotten one of his shoes. His foot was alright, but it didn’t help him any. He tried to make a rally, but he really used himself up and going four wide in the middle of the track isn’t usually conducive to winning.”
As for what's next?
“We’ll get him back and get to training on (him) a bit,” Whiting said. “The stakes will stay on the drawing board and we will see where we are at.”
Brown Almighty Sick
Trainer Tim Ice reported Brown Almighty, fifth in the Smarty Jones Stakes, had a severe lung infection.
“He scoped a five out of five,” Ice said. Wednesday, The son of Big Brown was making his dirt debut in the Smarty Jones after a successful 2-year-old campaign spent on turf.
“It was really frustrating, because he never showed me any signs of it before the race,” said Ice. “We got him back to the wash stall and he coughed twice standing there. We scoped him and it was pretty severe.”
Ice said Brown Almighty will be treated with antibiotics. Next-race plans are on hold, but he prefers staying at home.
“We want to run in the Southwest, but it’s going to be a matter of how much time he needs,” said Ice, who added that the Risen Star five days later could be an option.
--Edited track release with additional content by Dick Downey @DowneyProfile