Moreno Looks to Turn Tables with Electric Finish in Pennsylvania Derby
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing will feature a rematch between the top two finishers in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 24, with the duo separated by just a nose in an electrifying finish.
The Eric Guillot-trained Moreno set the early fractions, but Will Take Charge, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, battled gamely to the wire to win by the shortest of noses.
However, two weeks after the race, Guillot accused Will Take Charge jockey Luis Saez of using an electrical device to help get his mount to the wire first.
“To me, the horse was dead in the water four jumps out from the wire when he hit him with the machine, he surged,” Guillot told the Daily Racing Form. “Pretty suspicious why they had a jock change coming off a second place in the Jim Dandy.”
Junior Alvarado rode the colt in the Jim Dandy, while Jon Court rode him in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, with Mike Smith getting the mount in the Preakness. The colt was beaten double-digit lengths in each of the Triple Crown races.
Lukas and Saez have denied any wrongdoing. “It’s just unfortunate,” Lukas said. “That’s a good kid. He didn’t do anything wrong. It’ll run its course. The people that look at that stuff will come to the right conclusion. Somebody has a little trouble accepting defeat.”
The New York Gaming Commission and the New York State Police are reportedly still investigating the incident.
Guillot clams Saez was carrying the device, which would be about the size of a lighter, and applied a jolt to the colt in the stretch to give the horse an extra boost nearing the wire.
"The gaming commission is working on it," Guillot told the Times Union. "I brought them the video. I showed it to 100 people and it ain't been one person to deny it. You see a blurry, black device go from the right hand to the left hand and then he drops it."
Both trainers and jockeys have been mum on the subject this week and apparently are going to let the horses do the talking on Saturday afternoon.
Will Take Charge is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the field of eight and appears no worse for the wear after running in all of the Triple Crown races. The colt has earned $1,171,200 this year with three wins in eight starts.
Moreno was late to the party, not breaking his maiden until his ninth career start in June at Belmont Park. The colt came right back to win the Dwyer Stakes (G3) in his next start in gate-to-wire fashion by seven lengths. He was beaten by 3 1/4 lengths in the Jim Dandy (G2) before coming up a nose short in the Travers. The colt is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
The colt with the best shot of upsetting the duo appears to be the West Coast invader, Fury Kapcori. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is going to be a decent price in this spot. Last year’s winner of this race was Handsome Mike, a West Coast invader who pulled off the upset, paying $40.40.
Fury Kapcori showed plenty of promise as a juvenile, winning the Palmer Futurity in his lone start on dirt and running second over the fake stuff in the Real Quiet Stakes and the CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park.
The colt looks primed for a top effort in his third off the bench and has enough pedigree to handle his first trip at nine furlongs. He is by Tiznow out of a Go for Gin mare.
With a $600,000 pay day going to the winner, expect a shocking finish, batteries not included.
Morning-line odds from equibase.com
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