Arkansas-based horse, owner seek Horse of The Year accolade - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

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

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

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

The chestnut 4-year-old will not only be vying for three-year-old male of the year for 2013, but his amazing races down the stretch 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 looking forward to. I would be tickled to death to win one of them, but sure hope to get two," said Willis Horton, the horse's owner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Take Charge has surpassed more than $3 million in earnings in his 15 career starts, and is expected to make his four-year-old debut at the Donn Handicap in Florida, or the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in 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 Three Chimneys Farm, where Will Take Charge will eventually stud at the end of his racing career.

The Eclipse Awards will be announced on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park.