It’s been a long time between drinks for Revolutionary. Just barely over a year ago, the WinStar Farm charge was my top pick for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. My confidence in the well-bred colt was bolstered by brave wins in consecutive starts in the Withers and Louisiana Derby. He ran a decent enough race on the first Saturday in May, finishing third, but since then, the reviews on Revolutionary have been mixed at best. In fact, his grand total of stakes win since that Grade 2 Louisiana Derby victory nearly 14 months ago, is a big fat goose egg. If my handicapping is solid, though, that winless streak in stakes racing will not last into the weekend.
Revolutionary may have skipped last year’s Preakness, but he gets a chance to prove himself over the same trip in tomorrow’s $300,000 Pimlico Special. Listed as a lukewarm favorite in a field of nine, it looks to me like the son of War Pass and Runup the Colors is well spotted to kickstart a once promising career.
In fairness to the Todd Pletcher trainee, he has only had a limited number of chances since taking third place money in the Derby. In last June’s Belmont Stakes, Revolutionary made a move on the turn, before flattening out to finish fifth of fourteen, as another Pletcher runner, Palace Malice shot to the forefront of the division. Perhaps not 100% afterwards, Revolutionary was sent to WinStar Farm for some R&R, with designs on bringing him back as a serious older runner.
2014 started well for the relatively lightly raced four-year-old, as he scored a facile half-length victory over the graded stakes winner, Falling Sky in a one mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park. It was his first start in seven months, and the determined performance looked that much better when Falling Sky came back to win a graded stakes in his next outing. Revolutionary, on the other hand, was not as fortunate.
There were high hopes for him against a stellar field in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on February 9, but Revolutionary’s second race after the layoff was nothing but a bust. Running the first truly bad race of his career, he checked in a well beaten seventh at Gulfstream. Undeterred, Revolutionary came back two months later for the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He ran big. As a matter of fact, many onlookers believed that he deserved the victory after being bothered in the stretch by the 2013 three-year-old champ, Will Take Charge. Ultimately, after finishing second by three-quarters of a length, the stewards at Oaklawn Park left the decision alone. It may not have ended in victory, but this one looked the real Revolutionary.
With plenty of speed to set his table, Revolutionary should have every opportunity to uncork his best rally in the 1 3/16 miles of the Pimlico Special. Among that speed is the horse he will most likely need to beat in Moreno. Remember, the Ghostzapper gelding came within a whisker of winning last summer’s Travers. He has made only one start so far this season, a solid third place finish in the rich Charles Town Classic.
Others looking to keep Revolutionary from winning his third graded stakes victory, include the always threatening Bourbon Courage, a lightly raced up and comer from the Bob Baffert barn, Cat Burglar, and a pair that did not finish too far behind Revolutionary in the Oaklawn Handicap, in Carve and Golden Lad.
All in all, it’s a strong field for a grade 3, probably more of a grade 2 in quality, but one that I believe Revolutionary can handle on his way to bigger and better things in 2014.