Arkansas-based horse, owner seek Horse of The Year accolade

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- A lifetime Arkansan and his Arkansas-based horse look totake the nation by storm once more this weekend.

Arkansas-based and owned thoroughbred, Will Take Charge, hopesto add more accolades to his stable at the Eclipse Awards this weekend inFlorida.

The chestnut 4-year-old will not only be vying forthree-year-old male of the year for 2013, but his amazing races down thestretch have him as a finalist for the coveted Horse of The Year Eclipse Award.

"It is very exciting to me and something I'm really lookingforward to. I would be tickled to death to win one of them, but sure hope toget two," said Willis Horton, the horse's owner.

Will Take Charge and Horton, from Marshall, Arkansas, tookthe state by storm after capturing the Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes at OaklawnPark to begin 2013. Those wins gave the colt by Unbridled's Song and Take ChargeLady, enough points to enter into a run for the roses in the 2013 KentuckyDerby.

Although he never factored into any of the Triple Crownraces, Will Take Charge had bigger plans for the remainder of 2013.

Will Take Charge was second in July's Jim Dandy Stakes atSaratoga behind Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malace, but made it back into thewinner's circle in August at the Travers Stakes, for the first Grade 1 win ofhis career.

The win surged the towering, 17-hand colt to claim victoriesin three of his final four races, two of them at Grade 1, horse racing'shighest-level.

Will Take Charge dominated the Pennsylvania Derby down thestretch in September, lost by a nose to fellow Horse of the Year finalist MuchoMacho Man in the November Breeder's Cup, then came on strong to win the ClarkHandicap 27 days later.

"It took him some time to put it all together. We took theblinkers off and he really came to life. He is a tremendous horse, and I'vemade the decision to run him another year based on his soundness and the bigfan base he's accumulated."

Will Take Charge has surpassed more than $3 million inearnings in his 15 career starts, and is expected to make his four-year-olddebut at the Donn Handicap in Florida, or the $1 million Santa Anita Handicapin March, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

"I think he's going to have better four-year-old (season),than three-year-old," Lukas said.

On January 4 Horton sold a 50% share of the horse to ThreeChimneys Farm, where Will Take Charge will eventually stud at the end of hisracing career.

The Eclipse Awards will be announced on Jan. 18 atGulfstream Park.