Photo courtesy Coglianese Photos/NYRA
Making the Grade, which will run right up until the Belmont Stakes (G1), will focus on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) based on factors such as ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) pedigree.
This week we take a look at Revolutionary, who overcame a traffic logjam in the stretch to win the $200,000 Withers Stakes (G3) on Feb. 2 at Aqueduct in his stakes debut.
Dark Bay or Brown Colt
Sire (Father): War Pass
Dam (Mother): Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy
Breeder: W. S. Farish (Ky.)
Owner: WinStar Farm
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
The 3-year-old division was beginning to look a bit shallow at the start of the year, but the last three weekends have rectified that prospective dearth of true Derby contenders. Oxbow’s dazzling Lecomte Stakes (G3) win on Jan. 19 was followed by a scintillating victory by Itsmyluckyday, who needed a track-record setting performance to hand champion Shanghai Bobby his first defeat in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 26. Then, on Feb. 2, multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher unleashed a pair of potential stars on the Triple Crown Trail. Verrazano rolled to a 16 ¼-length romp at Gulfstream Park for his second dominant win in as many starts — a performance that the speed figure makers appear to agree was very fast. About an hour and a half later, Revolutionary burst through an opening late in the Withers Stakes (G3) to leave a troubled trip in the rearview mirror. The Withers winner gained more than a victory in that Derby prep, he got a crash-course education and passed the exam in the span of about 20 seconds.
Ability: A $235,000 purchase by WinStar Farm at the 2012 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, Revolutionary finished in the top three in each of his first three starts before really showing signs of maturing and improvement in his fourth race, an 8 ½-length runaway victory going a mile in December at Aqueduct that earned an eye-opening 114 Equibase Speed Figure.
Making his 3-year-old bow in the Withers, Revolutionary was shuffled back on the final turn and briefly dropped back to last in the eight-horse field. He then was trapped behind a wall of horses in the stretch with jockey Javier Castellano forced to weave in and out looking for any opening. When a glimmer of daylight appeared, Revolutionary capitalized with an explosive turn of foot to seize command in just a few powerful strides for a neck victory. How bad was the trip?
Pletcher’s assistant, Michael McCarthy said: “That may have been one of the worst winning trips I’ve ever seen.”
There was some concern before the race that Revolutionary might bounce (regress after an especially taxing effort) off his huge 114 Equibase Speed Figure earned in his previous win and he did slip to a 105 in the Withers. But the reality is that the figure was hurt by a slow pace, which was completely out of Revolutionary’s control after a poor start and should in theory actually hurt the chances for a horse closing from off the pace. Instead, Revolutionary blistered the final sixteenth of a mile to overwhelm runner-up Escapefromreality. And if that was a bounce, I’d love to see what type of performance this colt is capable of on a full tank of petrol because the Withers was something special to behold.
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Running style: Revolutionary has not been helped thus far in his career by strong starts and has twice had to come from way out of it after finding trouble early. In his other three races he raced closer to the pace, showing particularly good early speed in a runner-up finish in his second race. But let’s not overcomplicate this, Revolutionary proved in the Withers he can overcome adversity to make his own trip, and that’s awfully nice to know before your horse lines up against 19 challengers in the Kentucky Derby.
“This race,” said Elliot Walden, CEO and racing manager for winning owner WinStar Farm, said after the Withers, “was worth three in terms of education.
“When you’re looking at a race like the Derby, potentially down the road, to get that kind of experience, it’s invaluable.”
Video courtesy NYRA
Connections: Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver and the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches, has a nice hand for this year’s classics with champion Shanghai Bobby, Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Overanalyze, CashCall Futurity (G1) winner Violence, Verrazano and Revolutionary among his top tier and plenty of other talented 3-year-olds with a chance to join that group. Pletcher knows how to get a horse ready for the big one, so don’t let his 1-for-31 record in the Derby scare you away. Winning the Kentucky Derby ain’t easy.
When it comes to breeding or buying a classic-type horse, WinStar Farm certainly seems to know the secret. WinStar bred 2003 dual classic winner and champion Funny Cide, WinStar homebred Bluegrass Cat finished second in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, homebred Well Armed won the 2009 Dubai World Cup, homebred Super Saver prevailed in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and WinStar-owned Drosselmeyer took home the big prize in the 2010 Belmont and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic. You won’t find a better track record in classic-distance races in the U.S. in the last decade. Kenny Troutt and longtime friend Bill Casner built WinStar into a world-class breeding operation before Troutt bought out Casner in October 2010.
So far, Revolutionary has enjoyed the services of three of the sport’s best riders — John Velazquez, Ramon Dominguez and Javier Castellano — so he should have the services of a top jockey should he advance to the spring classics.
REVOLUTIONARY COMES UP THE RAIL FOR HIS WITHERS VICTORY
Photo courtesy Coglianese Photos/NYRA
Pedigree: Bred by William S. Farish, owner of Lane’s End, one of the top farms in the Thoroughbred industry, revolutionary is from one of two crops by 2007 champion 2-year-old male War Pass, who was brilliant in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). War Pass died in December 2010.
Revolutionary’s dam (mother) is 1997 Alabama Stakes (G1) winner Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy. It’s always nice when analyzing a pedigree for a Kentucky Derby hopeful to find a dam whose best performance came at 1 ¼ miles in a prestigious Grade 1 race and it sure doesn’t hurt that she is by 1992 Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. Revolutionary’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is Up the Flagpole, winner of the 1981 Delaware Oaks (G2) and matriarch of standouts such as 2003 Horse of the year Mineshaft and Grade or Group 1 winners Flagbird, Prospectors Delite, Tomisue’s Delight, Mr. Sidney and Little Belle. This is one heck of a female family and one that has a history of producing horses with plenty of puff to excel in a 1 ¼-mile race.