Trainer Todd Pletcher's Revolutionary ran himself into Kentucky Derby consideration on Saturday while taking his stakes bow in the Grade 3 Withers in his fifth career start, and emerged from that score at Aqueduct in good order.
Revolutionary, whose late charge carried him past Escapefromreality after an eventful trip in the 1 1/16-mile contest, will depart for Pletcher's Florida base at Palm Meadows Training Center on Tuesday to prepare for any one of a number of final preps for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
While anyone was free to speculate on Flashback's next race, Bob Baffert was tight-lipped on the issue Sunday morning, saying for the record only that the impressive 6 1/4-length winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes came out of the race in good shape and that he had "no game plan" at the moment.
"I didn't even sleep on it," Baffert said on a summer-like Super Bowl morning. "I worry about Game On Dude."
Flashback's long-range agenda, however, could include the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
Falling Sky threw his name into the Kentucky Derby picture Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3, $202,500 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. In his first start for trainer John Terranova, the sophomore colt withstood the rally of Dynamic Sky to prevail by a neck.
WinStar Farm's Revolutionary broke slowly and suffered through an adventurous trip in Saturday's Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct, but the Kentucky Derby prospect unleashed his best stride late and closed dramatically to win by a neck on the wire. Heavily favored in his stakes debut, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was ridden to victory in the 1 1/16-mile event by Javier Castellano.
"He didn't break that sharp and I didn't panic," Castellano noted. "I think the key with him is that you have to be patient."
The Bob Baffert-trained Flashback, who generated plenty of buzz with his debut maiden win in December, officially burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dominating display in Saturday's Grade 2, $196,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. Sent off as the heavy 1-2 favorite in a four-horse field, Gary and Mary West's colorbearer led throughout and surged 6 1/4 lengths clear under minimal encouragement from jockey Julien Leparoux.
The early nomination period for the three races in the American Triple Crown has concluded with 369 3-year-old Thoroughbreds based in the United States and abroad eligible to bid for a rare sweep of the series of classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1 million Preakness (GI) and the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI).
NOTE: UPDATE: Brisnet.com is working to upload free past performances of all Triple Crown-nominated horses (check back later this afternoon) via:
Last year's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis served as a steppingstone to stardom, as I'll Have Another parlayed his 2 3/4-length win in the race to triumphs in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Lewis attracted a field of four hoping for the same outcome, including He's Had Enough, who like I'll Have Another is owned by Reddam Racing, trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
After shipping in to win the Pasco on January 12, Dynamic Sky will return to Tampa Bay Downs in pursuit of the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile test is one of three graded events on Saturday's lucrative 12-race Festival Preview Day card and serves as a precursor to the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, with all roads subsequently leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
Nobody predicted that Itsmyluckyday would develop into a top Kentucky Derby contender this year, not after his well-beaten sixth in the Delta Jackpot Juvenile in mid-November and fourth-place effort in the December 15 Dania Beach on turf, but Saturday's Holy Bull changed perceptions.
Itsmyluckyday convincingly handed unbeaten juvenile champ Shanghai Bobby his first defeat, winning easily by a two-length margin while establishing a new track record at Gulfstream Park for the 1 1/16-mile distance, and he's the clear leader of the pack when it comes to BRIS Speed ratings.
A beaten favorite in his first three outings, including twice as an odds-on choice, Revolutionary finally put it all together as an even-money favorite in a December 28 maiden at Aqueduct. He did it emphatically, too, scoring by 8 1/2 lengths over next-out winner Transparent. Off that commanding performance, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt might go favored in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Withers, a 1 1/16-mile test over the Big A's inner track.
Shanghai Bobby, last year’s champion 2-year-old male and undefeated winner of the Breeders’ Cup Grey Goose Juvenile, received the high weight assignment of 126 pounds on The Jockey Club’s 2012 Experimental Free Handicap, released Wednesday by The Jockey Club.
Beholder, who won the Breeders’ Cup Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies, was the high weight filly with 123.
Shanghai Bobby and Beholder were also Eclipse Award winners in their respective divisions of 2-year-old male and 2-year-old filly.
Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa's Itsmyluckyday was pronounced to be "110 percent" Sunday morning at Calder by trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., one day after his track record victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park over previously undefeated champion Shanghai Bobby.
"We had a good year last year and started this year even better," Plesa said. "In this game, you have to enjoy it when things are going your way and hold on to it because it will come to an end eventually. Right now I would say we'll wait for the Florida Derby for his next start."
Grade 1 CashCall Futurity runner-up Fury Kapcori has suffered a setback that will rule him out of his scheduled reappearance in Saturday's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, according to a report in Daily Racing Form.
"He's got a little problem," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer told DRF Sunday. "It might cost him a little time."
Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa's Itsmyluckyday collared two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby in the stretch run of Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes and went on to a convincing two-length victory, establishing himself as a serious prospect for this year's Kentucky Derby while smashing the track record at Gulfstream Park. The emerging three-year-old colt completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 4/5 with jockey Elvis Trujillo, bettering the old mark of 1:42 1/5 for the re-configured nine-furlong oval.
Multiple Grade 3 winner Goldencents and recent acquisition Mudflats each worked six furlongs for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill before Saturday's 1ST race on Santa Anita's wet-fast main track. Each horse worked separately with an eye toward the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 9.
Goldencents went in a bullet 1:10 1/5 under regular rider Kevin Krigger, the best of a total of eight works at the distance on Saturday. His fractional times were :22 4/5, :45 3/5 and :57 4/5.
Bern Identity, who will make his three-year-old debut in Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, is generally regarded as the biggest danger to undefeated Shanghai Bobby, the 4-5 morning-line favorite.
Unbeaten champion Shanghai Bobby made a quick jaunt Thursday from his Palm Meadows home to Gulfstream Park, where he schooled in the paddock with promising stablemate Verrazano during the 2ND race. The Todd Pletcher trainee was getting a field trip in advance of Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.
"He hasn't been to the racetrack or anywhere besides Palm Meadows since he ran in the Breeder's Cup (Juvenile on November 3)," Pletcher said. "We wanted him to get familiar with his surroundings here.
D. Wayne Lukas leads all modern-day trainers with four Kentucky Derby wins, the first coming via the front-running filly Winning Colors in 1988, and the Wisconsin native made an incredible mark during the late '80s and '90s, winning a record 13 Triple Crown races. The 77-year-old conditioner is no longer churning out champions like he did in his heyday, but he will look to return to prominence this year with Oxbow, a smashing 11 1/2-length winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
One week after being officially awarded the 2012 juvenile colt championship, Shanghai Bobby will put his undefeated record on the line and kick off his classic prep season in Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park over 1 1/16 miles.
Owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds who dream that their young horses will participate in the 2013 Triple Crown races have only a few days remaining to make their horses eligible during its early nomination period to compete in the coveted series of American classics that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1 million Preakness (GI) and the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI).