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Shelby’s Court appears headed back to Derby

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He is scheduled to ride Will Take Charge

By Josh Cook

Jon Court is on schedule to get a second chance at the Kentucky Derby.

Court, the professional Thoroughbred jockey from Shelbyville, who two years ago had his first mount in horse racing’s Super Bowl, is slated to be back at Churchill Downs next Saturday (the first one in May) and on the back of Will Take Charge in the 139th Run for the Roses.   

The first Derby start for Court, 52, whose riding career began in 1980, likely was one he likely would rather forget. Court finished 15th aboard Archarcharch in the 137th Derby in 2011.

The 1 1/4-mile race didn’t start or end well for either Court or Archarcharch, which was trained by his father-in-law, Jinks Fires.

Arch was bumped coming out of the starting gate. Then, Court’s saddle slipped, and the horse was bumped again before pulling up lame – with a condylar fracture in the left front – as he was coming across the crossing the finish line.

Archarcharch had surgery the next day and was retired.

Court, meanwhile, has continued to thrive. In 195 starts this year he has 23 victories (including one in the fourth race at Keeneland on Thursday), 19 second-place finishes and 28 thirds. He has earned $1,507,498 ($7,731 per start), which ranks 39th among North American Thoroughbred jockeys.

Court has ridden Will Take Charge, which is owned by Willis Horton and trained by Hall-of- Famer D. Wayne Lukas, to both of his victories this year.

On Jan. 21 he claimed a photo-finish victory in the 1-mile Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

And almost two months later, on March 16, Court guided the horse to a come-from-behind head victory over stablemate Oxbow in the $600,000 Grade II Rebel Stakes, also at Oaklawn.

Both of those horses, who are trained by Lukas, worked out Thursday morning at Churchill.

“I like how my horses are doing,” Lukas said Thursday. “Whether they are good enough remains to be seen. Over the years, you get a feel about them, and I am very comfortable with them now.”

Will Take Charge, and Oxbow, may work again Monday depending on the weather.

As for whether or not Court can win his first Derby – and Lukas his fifth – we’ll have to wait 8 more days.