By Dick Downey
NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photo
Despite a very tough trip, Revolutionary got up in the last jump to win the Grade III Withers Stakes in a last-to-first effort. The win probably has earned him a trip to Florida.
Timed for the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.32 under Javier Castellano, Revolutionary took victory from the grasp of the late-surging Escapefromreality to get up by a neck in an exciting finish.
Siete de Oros led the field of seven up the backstretch, setting fractions of :24.22, :48.18 and 1:12.48, with Escapefromreality initially in closest pursuit before being eased back to fifth by Jose Ortiz. Smooth Bert and Long River took up the slack, while Revolutionary dwelt in last after a half-mile and seventh of eight after six furlongs. At that point, the eventual winner was on the rail, 3 3/4 lengths off the pace.
As heads turned for home, Long River, the second betting choice at 8-5, began backing out of the fray. Siete de Oros was still on the lead with a furlong left in the race. Then Escapefromreality sailed by him and looked to be a winner, but Revolutionary would not be denied.
Finishing behind Escapefromreality were Siete de Oros, Amerigo Vespucci, Champion Boy, Smooth Bert, Valid and Long River. Valid stumbled badly out of the gate, almost unseating Junior Alvarado.
Although his next start was not clear at the post of this story, WinStar Farm CEO Elliott Walden said he's inclined to have Revolutionary shipped to Florida to race one more time before the Kentucky Derby.
Runner-up Escapefromreality will likely run back in Gotham at Aqudecut on March 2.
It was the fifth career start for Revolutionary, who broke his maiden on the inner dirt track at Aqueduct in his most recent start.
With the win, Revolutionary picked up 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Escapefromreality got four, Siete de Oros two and Amerigo Vespucci one. At 3-4 odds, Revolutionary paid $3.50, $3.00 and $2.10. He picked up the winner's share of $120,000 from the $200,000 purse.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, Revolutionary was bred in Kentucky by W. S. Farish. He's by War Pass out of the A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors. An $80,000 Keeneland September 2011 purchase, WinStar acquired Revolutionary for $235,000 at the Ocala 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
Michael McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher: “We were a little bit handicapped going into the race without having a work six days out, but the horse has been training well and gets a lot out of his gallops. The horse has a tendency to not get away cleanly and got himself a little farther back than we would have liked. Things went from bad to worse from there, but Javier didn’t panic and had faith in the horse. We’ve known all along the horse had ability. When you are pointing for the Derby, this is a huge steppingstone. That was a big, big step today against some proven horses.”
Javier Castellano: “He didn’t break that sharp, and I didn’t panic. I think the key with him is that you have to be patient. I could have gone around horses at the three-eighths pole because I had so much horse, but I just wanted to teach him something, have him learn something. I knew he could get it done; in my mind it was just waiting for the best opportunity to make a move. That’s exactly what I did, and he responded so well today.
"He’s a classy horse. He kind of got intimidated a little bit between horses, he’s a young horse, but I really like the way he did it. He split horses, finished very strong, and galloped out great. He’s a horse with potential. Handicapping the race, I would have liked to be close to the pace – second, third, or fourth. It didn’t work out that way, he didn’t break that good, and I ended up almost last on the first turn. But the way the race developed, he learned a lot and I think he’s going to go forward.”
Elliott Walden, president, CEO and racing manager of WinStar Farm: “Very impressed. Obviously things didn’t go well out of the gate, but he hung in there and Javier did a nice job of being patient. Finally, when he got some room, he came running. When you’re looking at a race like the Derby, potentially down the road, to get that kind of experience, it’s invaluable. Nice race.
"I felt pretty good around the turn because they were so bunched up. It’s not like he was 15 back, he was eight back, but he was in trouble, so you never knew if he was going to get through. You knew if he did get through he’d have some horse. It was nice to see him come running like that. He couldn’t blow out a match in the winner’s circle. We’ll talk with Todd and we’ll see. I’d be inclined to take him to Florida and regroup until that last round of preps. Probably just one more race. This proved he’s worthy to keep on the trail. This race was worth three in terms of education.”