Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent Kentucky Derby contenders Oxbow and Will Take Charge through their final pre-race moves April 29 at Churchill Downs, with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the irons on Oxbow, who he will ride in the Derby.
Oxbow, the Lecomte Stakes winner who was second to Will Take Charge in the March 16 Rebel Stakes, went five furlongs in :59 4/5 after breaking off strongly from the pony. He clocked splits of :11 4/5, :23 2/5, :35 1/5, :47 2/5, and went out six furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
"I told Gary in the tack room here, 59 and 4 to a minute would fit me today and he hit it right on the head it was good," Lukas said of the colt, who comes off a fifth under Stevens in the Arkansas Derby on April 13.
"Wayne wanted five furlongs, he wanted me to shade a minute, and he wanted me to pull him up immediately," Stevens said. "He didn't want a gallop out. Last week he galloped out strong all the way down to the half-mile pole, and he needed that last week, but we did not need a long gallop-out today."
Outrider Greg Blasi was waiting at the six-furlong mark in case Stevens needed a hand, but the jockey didn't have major issues gearing down Calumet Farm's sophomore son of Awesome Again.
"I got him pulled up quick," Stevens said. "I was surprised that they got him in 1:14 because I grabbed him as soon as we hit the finish line. He went in 59 and 4 and it was exactly what Wayne wanted. He was a little headstrong, but that's him. He's aggressive and I got in a fight with him in the Arkansas Derby and I'm not going to fight with him [in the Derby]; I'm going to be as quiet a passenger as I can."
After Oxbow worked, Will Take Charge went five furlongs in 1:01 flat under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo. Willis Horton's flashy 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song registered splits of :11 3/5, :23 1/5, :35 1/5, and galloped six furlongs out in 1:14 2/5.
"Will Take Charge was a little bit slower, but Rudy was afraid," Lukas joked. "I pretty much beat up on him in there about going too fast this close (to the Derby), so less is always better. Always better."
Lukas, 77, has won four editions of the Kentucky Derby -- in 1988 with Winning Colors,1995 with Thunder Gulch, 1996 with Grindstone, and most recently 1999 with Charismatic. His last Triple Crown race winner was Commendable, who took the Belmont Stakes in 2000. With a victory in the May 4 Classic, he would become the oldest Derby-winning trainer in history -- beating out Charlie Whittingham, who took the 1986 edition with Ferdinand at age 76.