Day At The Track

"Will Take Charge" take charge in Maxie Lee?

06:50 AM 26 May 2018 NZST
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Will Take Charge, harness racing Caviart Ally, harness racing
Will Take Charge and driver Tim Tetick in recent score at Pocono Downs
Curtis Salonick photo
Caviart Ally in prior win
Mark Hall/USTA photo

Will Take Charge charges into Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphi off a win in a leg of the Great Northeast Open Series for trotters; a victory that saw the 5-year-old gelding make a four-wide move around the final turn to complete a last-to-first rally after a few missteps at the start of the race.

"He can trot the turns as fast as any horse I've ever had," trainer Jeff Gillis said. "He's like a hobbled pacer almost. You can move him anywhere; he's very handy. He's just got a lot of good qualities that make him very versatile."

Will Take Charge joined Gillis' stable after owner Mac Nichol purchased the horse in November. The gelding was previously trained by John Bax and was runner-up in the Ontario Sire Stakes championships at ages 2 and 3. For his career, Will Take Charge has won 17 of 60 races, going 8-for-14 with Gillis, and earned $561,169.

He made a splash with his seasonal stakes debut on May 5 by finishing second to defending Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover in the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands. His Great Northeast Open win at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono followed on May 13.

"There were a couple issues with his blood that we got corrected and he's just been a nice horse for us," Gillis said. "There were a lot of things that I liked about him. Obviously, his gate speed, and he looked like a really sound horse that carried good flesh. He was the kind you like to try to buy.

"The other thing was I knew Bax had kept him through his 4-year-old year because he really liked him. Sometimes horses get stale and need a change. To say that he would be this good, no I didn't really expect that. But I thought he could be a nice horse."

Will Take Charge is a son of Kadabra out of Celebrity Angel, who is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award-winner Almost An Angel. He is fully staked this year.

"We'll let him tell us," Gillis said. "We intend to race him in all of those (stakes) if he's healthy and sound. Of course the big ones for us are the Maple Leaf Trot and the Breeders Crown. Hopefully he will be good for those."

The Maxie Lee is part of an invitational tripleheader at Philly with the Commodore Barry for older male pacers and Betsy Ross for older female pacers.

In addition, the card includes a Great Northeast Open Series event for trotters -- featuring 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover -- and Great Northeast Open Series races for male and female pacers. There also will be two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. Action begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT).

Will Take Charge will face a deep field in the Maxie Lee, where two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Marion Marauder is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Will Take Charge is the 3-1 second choice, followed by the event's defending champion, Crazy Wow, at 7-2. Broadway Donna, another multiple Dan Patch Award-winner and the only mare in the race, is 6-1.

"I think we drew well," Gillis said, referring to Will Take Charge's post four starting spot with driver Tim Tetrick. "I think it's a good spot. I'm pretty confident in him based on what he's done the last couple times on a small track. He's shown the ability to race on or near the lead as well as off the pace. I feel confident in whatever Timmy decides."

Broadway Donna will try to join Buck I St Pat as the only female winners of the Maxie Lee Invitational, which debuted in 2008. Buck I St Pat, herself a multiple Dan Patch Award-winner, was a two-time champ. Other Dan Patch Award-honorees to capture the event were Obrigado, Father Patrick, Market Share, Chapter Seven, and Lucky Jim.

"I was very happy with the way she got started," trainer Jim Campbell said about 5-year-old Broadway Donna, who won her seasonal debut in 1:51.4 at the Meadowlands on May 12. "There are no easy spots for her. No matter where she goes it's going to be tough racing. That's the way it is and you just have to adapt to it."

The Maxie Lee is named after longtime horsemen Maxie Lee. A native of North Carolina, Lee made a name for himself as a trainer and driver in the Philadelphia area at Liberty Bell and Brandywine. He had back-to-back Delaware Valley Harness Horse of the Year winners in the mid-1970s with Black Gamecock and Valley Ken. In 1990, Lee became the first African-American with a starter in the Hambletonian, with the Peter Haughton Memorial winner Backstreet Guy.

Following is the field for the Maxie Lee Invitational with drivers, trainers, and morning-line odds.

1. Marion Marauder, Scott Zeron, Paula Wellwood, 5-2; 2. Rubber Duck, Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno, 15-1; 3. I Know My Chip, Victor Kirby, Walter Haynes Jr., 12-1; 4. Will Take Charge, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Gillis, 3-1; 5. Crazy Wow, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2; 6. Warrawee Roo, Dan Dube, Luc Blais, 9-1; 7. Broadway Donna, David Miller, Jim Campbell, 6-1; 8. Tuonoblu Rex, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 8-1.

Caviart Ally looks to step up in Betsy Ross

Friday, May 25, 2018 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Trainer Noel Daley does not seem too concerned about Caviart Ally making the jump to racing older horses, and feels his confidence will be proven as the year goes on.

"People say sometimes it's a little harder for the 4-year-olds to actually go against the older mares," Daley said. "Physically and mentally I think she'll do the job. I don't think she's going to out-muscle them straight away. She's going to have to have a bit of luck the way the races go and all that. But I think as the season goes on especially, I really think she'll match it up with them.

"She's a very hearty mare. If anything, she always looks too big. She's not one you have to worry about eating and things like that. You've got to worry about her being too big, actually."

Caviart Ally is coming off an outstanding 3-year-old season in which she was the straight-heat winner of the Jugette, and also captured a division of the Bluegrass Stakes along with two legs and the final of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. She won seven of 20 races and finished second in the Breeders Crown, Lynch Memorial, Glen Garnsey and Shady Daisy.

For her career, Caviart Ally has won 11 of 36 races and earned $828,510. After winning her first two starts this year, she faces the first stakes-level race of her 4-year-old season Sunday in the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia.

The Betsy Ross is part of an invitational tripleheader at Philly with the Commodore Barry for older male pacers and Maxie Lee for older trotters.

In addition, the card includes a Great Northeast Open Series event for trotters -- featuring 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover -- and Great Northeast Open Series races for male and female pacers. There also will be two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. Action begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT).

Caviart Ally will get a stern test as the Betsy Ross field includes three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country, Blue Chip Matchmaker Series champion Shartin N, and stakes-winners Agent Q, Darlinonthebeach, and Blue Moon Stride. Caviart Ally will start from post No. 2 with Andy McCarthy in the sulky.

"It's a very competitive race which makes it good," Daley said. "No one's going to be able to waltz around and do their own thing. There's too many in there that can win. There's very few in there that can't win it; in my estimation anyhow. Whoever has a good trip and has a good day. It's a deep field, there's no dominant one there, I don't think."

Owned by Caviart Farms, Caviart Ally was sired by Bettor's Delight. She was purchased at Harrisburg -- at Daley's recommendation -- for $35,000 by Buck and Judy Chaffee, who were looking for a broodmare but figured they would race the horse if she showed potential.

In her two wins this year, Daley liked her in the first at Philly on May 9, but was not thrilled with her second race at the same track on May 18. She won her seasonal debut in 1:50.4 and her second start in 1:52.

"She was very good the first start; she bounced a bit the second start and was just OK," he said. "She switched off the last little bit but she can do that. I think we'll be fine on Sunday."

Her opening races this year sound a little like a microcosm of her career.

"She's a funny mare," Daley said. "She can have an average day here and there, she's been disappointing a couple times and then obviously she can be very good. The first part of the year she was solid last year. I think she really stepped out there when she won the Sire Stakes final, she was just super that day.

"She was very good in the Breeders Crown, she got outdrawn there and had to come first over and stuck in very well. She went fifth in the last one of the year in the Matron. If she had won the Matron, I think she would have probably got the (3-year-old filly pacer) of the year. To me it was a three-way battle between Agent Q and (divisional award-winner) Blazin Britches."

And although she was not an award-winner last year, Caviart Ally showed enough to get heavily staked in her first year with the older horses.

"We have her in everything," Daley said. "If you're going to bring them back and try to race them...she's in a lot, she's in every race an older mare could be in. She's paid up. I'll be shocked if she doesn't come back very good. She's a beautiful type of mare, she's just a big strong mare; has a great temperament."

And Daley is excited for the upcoming big races, as the only people he would rather be other than himself are the Chaffees.

"I'm happy to have her," he said, adding with a laugh, "I wish I owned her."

Following is the field for the Betsy Ross with drivers, trainers, and morning-line odds.

1. Pure Country, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-1; 2. Caviart Ally, Andy McCarthy, Noel Daley, 12-1; 3. Divas Image, Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno, 15-1; 4. Shartin N, Tim Tetrick, Jim King Jr., 9-5; 5. Agent Q, Brett Miller, Chris Oakes, 7-2; 6. Apple Bottom Jeans, Victor Kirby, Kevin Switzer, 20-1; 7. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, R. Nifty Norman, 9-2; 8. Blue Moon Stride, Corey Callahan, Mark Harder, 8-1.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

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