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Will Take Charge seeks another big payday in Penn Derby

Little separated Pennsylvania Derby protagonists Will Take Charge and Moreno in the Travers (Bud Morton/EquiSport Photos)

Will Take Charge needed every yard in last month's 1 1/4-mile Travers to catch the speedy longshot Moreno. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt will have less ground to work with in his attempt to produce the same result in Saturday's Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.

The 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby will mark the third meeting between Will Take Charge and Moreno. The latter, coming off a tour de force victory in the July 6 Dwyer at Belmont Park, was the more supported of the two when they first met in the July 27 Jim Dandy Saratoga. In the event it was Will Take Charge, who finished far up the track in all three Triple Crown races, who ran the better of the two when second by a length to Belmont winner Palace Malice.

Third by 3 1/4 lengths in the Jim Dandy, Moreno nearly stole the "Midsummer Derby" under Jose Ortiz, but again Will Take Charge had the gelding's number when getting up in the final strides to win by a nose. 

Eric Guillot, the trainer of Moreno, later caused a furor when he alleged that jockey Luis Saez used an illegal device on Will Take Charge in the Travers. An investigation into the charge is presently ongoing, according to officials with the New York State Gaming Commission.

A victory Saturday by Will Take Charge, a regally-bred son of Unbridled's Song and the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Take Charge Lady, would enhance his credentials in the race for champion three-year-old male honors. The chestnut has won two other stakes this season -- the Rebel and the Smarty Jones, both at Oaklawn.

Two challengers who might keep Moreno somewhat busy on the front end are Speak Logistics and Fury Kapcori. Speak Logistics was most recently second in Parx's version of the Smarty Jones on Labor Day, finishing a neck behind Edge of Reality over a muddy track. California shipper Fury Kapcori, meanwhile, missed by a head in the $100,000 El Cajon at Del Mar on August 30 in his first race back from an extended layoff.

Blue Grass winner Java's War makes his first start for Barclay Tagg, who replaced Ken McPeek as the colt's trainer last month. Unplaced in both the Kentucky Derby and the Swaps, the War Pass colt finished a clear second in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last start over a fast dirt track.

Sheikh Mohammed will be represented in the Pennsylvania Derby by Transparent, who races in the maroon and while Darley colors, and Romansh, who races in the all-blue Godolphin colors. The pair first met in the $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga in late July, with Transparent crossing the wire two lengths in front of his entrymate. However, due to interference he caused around the far turn, Transparent was demoted to fifth and Romash elevated to the winner's circle.

Both colts contested the Travers, with Romansh faring the better of the two. Stalking Moreno from second early, Romansh lost position as the race wore on but was only betean four lengths at the finish. Transparent never fired at all, finishing last of nine, and will race with Lasix for the first time on Saturday.

Restricted stakes winner Battier, a three-time winner at Parx, completes the field.

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