Photo: Coglianese Photos
Perhaps the most magical racetrack in North America, Saratoga
is a portal to the past and a gateway to the future. Resting on the edge of
Saratoga Springs, New York, Saratoga is not only a staple for the town; it is a
staple for the sport of horse racing. The ghosts of racing greats – the likes
of Kelso, Man O’ War, Native Dancer, Ruffian, and Secretariat – linger at the
Graveyard of Champions, adding to the rich history of the iconic racetrack. In
addition, “The Spa” has served as the launching pad for a multitude of
champions, which attracts much attention the track’s numerous maiden races for
two-year-olds each summer.
Any impressive performance from a talented two-year-old at Saratoga often lands
a horse on watch lists, with hopes focused upon the Kentucky Derby (gr. I),
several months and more than 800 miles away. But usually, only the outstanding
maiden winners – such as those that draw away to win by a wide margin – land themselves
a position on watch lists, leaving the horses that ran well but did not find
the winner’s circle to frequently be abandoned.
Such is not the case for WinStar Farm’s
Revolutionary. Despite not winning his debut at
Saratoga on closing day in 2012, Revolutionary earned himself a place on my
list of horses to watch. As he broke from the gate, Revolutionary was blitzed
by rivals and forced to check in the early stages of the five and
one-half-furlong maiden special weight. The short distance of the race made it
difficult for Revolutionary to regain his momentum, but despite going wide
around the turn prior to running greenly down the stretch, the colt closed in
remarkable style to finish a game third.
Revolutionary would go on to break his maiden in his fourth start, coasting to
a magnificent 8 ½-length victory that was just 0.73 seconds slower than the
track record over Aqueduct’s inner track. Pointed towards the Kentucky Derby,
Revolutionary impressed the racing world with game wins in the Withers Stakes
(gr. III) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
Sent off as the second
choice in the Kentucky Derby, Revolutionary encountered a slightly rough trip but
finished well to be third behind Orb.
The notion that Revolutionary would make his mark on the remainder of the
Triple Crown and 2013 racing season was a popular opinion, but after a fifth-place effort in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Revolutionary was sent to WinStar
Farm to rest for the remainder of the year. Stabled in the airy training barn at the Kentucky farm, Revolutionary became more
mature, blossoming into a stronger horse.
Pletcher’s stable at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, Revolutionary was
prepared to commence his four-year-old campaign. He worked progressively toward
his 2014 debut, recording eight official works at the training center from
mid-November until his return.
On January 11, Revolutionary stepped into a post parade for the first
time since the Belmont, the Florida sun glinting off his dark coat. Just four
others aligned to face him in the one-mile allowance optional claiming, but
Revolutionary was by no means taking on lowly horses. Not only were two of the
horses he was competing against that day – Falling Sky and Honorable Dillon – graded stakes winners, but he was also
contending with the 2012 Florida Derby (gr. I) runner-up, Reveron.
Breaking from the rail, Revolutionary settled in fourth as the small field
galloped down the chute. Down the backstretch, the dark bay colt raced about
four lengths off the leader, but with a half mile remaining, he began to pick
up the pace, cutting into the distance that separated him from the
front-running Falling Sky. Abandoning the rail for an outside rally,
Revolutionary held a spot in third all the way around the far turn. At the top
of the stretch, however, he found a new gear as he drew even with the
frontrunners. Using every ounce of determination he had, Revolutionary drew
clear within the final furlong, edging away without any urging from Javier
Castellano to win.
Today, Revolutionary will jump back into grade one company in the Donn Handicap
(gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. His most intimidating competitor is certainly Will Take Charge, the 2013 Champion
Three-Year-Old Male, who will be making his first start since capturing the
Clark Handicap (gr. I) at the end of November. Other top contenders include the
multiple graded stakes winner River Seven, who enters the Donn on a three-race winning streak, and impressive
Hal’s Hope Stakes (gr. III) winner Lea.
Revolutionary will need to improve upon what was already a notable performance
last out, but he has always been a classy horse. A big race in the Donn could
set him up for many more big races this year. This afternoon will be a major
test of his ability, but should he perform well, he could be on his way to
being one of the top older males of 2014.