Revolutionary threaded his way through the field and finished with flourish to defeat Escapefromreality by a neck in the 133rd running
of the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The colt’s narrow victory in the Withers, a 1 1/16-mile race for
3-year-olds, gave jockey Javier Castellano a 3-for-4 record in
Saturday’s stakes at Aqueduct, with the
rider’s lone loss being a runner-up finish aboard Johannesburg Smile in
the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, won by Head Heart Hoof.
Favored at 3-5 off an 8 ½-length maiden win on December 28 at
the Big A, Revolutionary raced behind traffic in sixth through an
opening quarter-mile in 24.22 seconds
and trailed in eighth through a half in 48.18. Kept along the rail by
Castellano around the far turn, Revolutionary came off the fence turning
for home, ducked back inside with three sixteenths to travel, split a
pair of horses in the lane, and surged late
to grab the lead in the final strides.
“He didn’t break that sharp and I didn’t panic,” said
Castellano. “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.”
Revolutionary, a son of
Pass who was making his fifth start and
first around two turns, returned $3.50 for a $2 win wager and completed 1
1/16 miles in 1:44.32. The $120,000 winner’s share of the Withers purse
pushed his career earnings to $188,500.
“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,” said
Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “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 [Castellano] didn’t panic and had faith
in the horse.”
Elliot Walden, CEO and racing manager for winning owner WinStar
Farm, said the adversity Revolutionary encountered in the Withers could
prove beneficial as he moves
toward a possible start in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4.
“When you’re looking at a race like the
potentially down the road, to get that kind of experience, it’s
invaluable,” said Walden. “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.”
The Withers is one of three graded preps for Aqueduct’s Grade 1,
$1 million Wood Memorial on April 6, preceded by the Grade 2 Jerome on
January 5 and followed by the
Grade 3 Gotham on March 2.
Walden said WinStar and Pletcher will discuss numerous options for Revolutionary.
“We’ll talk with Todd and we’ll see,” said Walden. “I’d be
inclined to take him to Florida and regroup until that last round of
preps. Probably just one more race [before
the Derby]. This proved he’s worthy to keep on the [Derby] trail. This race was worth three in terms of education.”
Siete de Oros finished two lengths behind the winner in third
and was followed home by Amerigo Vespucci, Champion Boy, Smooth Bert,
Earlier on the card, Castellano won the $100,000 Correction with
Cluster of Stars for trainer Steve Asmussen and teamed with Pletcher to
take the $100,000 Busher with
runaway winner Princess of Sylmar. The outcome of the Toboggan,
contested for the 120th time, went against Castellano and
Pletcher, however, as Head Heart Hoof held off their runner,
Johannesburg Smile, in another thrilling finish.
Away in second, Head Heart Hoof tugged at jockey Cornelio
Velasquez as he tracked P J’s Magical Wink through an opening fraction
of 22.95. After offering a bid at the
quarter pole, he led by two lengths at the stretch call and had enough
left to stave off
Johannesburg’s Smile’s late charge, prevailing by a half-length.
“[P J’s Magical Wink] has a lot of speed, so I stayed close,”
said Velasquez. “I had a lot of horse. [Johannesburg Smile] is a good
horse, but I think with more distance,
maybe seven-eighths, he’s a better horse. My horse is in the best
condition now, and he finished good.”
The Toboggan was the first graded stakes win for Head Heart Hoof, a 7-year-old gelded son of Intidab who was making his 50th start. He paid $6.10 as the 2-1
second choice and ran six furlongs in 1:09.86.
“He loves the inner track, so I think that’s why he’s running
this good right now,” said Rudy Rodriguez, who trains Head Heart Hoof
for Michael Dubb. “We’re not doing
too much to him. He’s sound, he’s whole, he’s game. Right now I think
he’s peaking, so hopefully he’ll keep doing that.”
Head Heart Hoof, whose record stands at 18-7-3, has earned
$470,176, including $90,000 for his Toboggan win. He entered the
Toboggan off a 2 ¼-length score in the True
and Blue overnight stakes on the inner track January 9.
“At the time we claimed him, I thought he’d be a useful
two-other-than type of horse, but I had hopes, especially in the
wintertime,” said Dubb. “We ran him back, and
he ran second in a stake race off the claim, but came back after that
and didn’t run great. We gave him some time, and had him at
Delaware and Monmouth and he wasn’t doing what I
wanted. I said, ‘He’s an Aqueduct horse, let’s get him home to
Aqueduct.’ I sent him to Rudy, and he’s getting better all the time. I’m
just thrilled with him.”
Sinai, P J’s Magical Wink, Isn’t He Perfect, and Mine Over Matter completed the Toboggan order of finish.