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."
Revolutionary got away tardily from the starting gate and had dropped back to last in the eight-horse field after a half-mile. Siete des Oros (A.P. Warrior), who was exiting a head second in the Grade 2 Jerome on January 5, sprinted to the fore at the start and showed the way until deep stretch, setting fractions of :24 1/5, :48, 1:12 2/5 and 1:38.
Revolutionary was rating off the pace along the inside but never appeared to be traveling well during the early stages, displaying signs of immaturity by turning his head to the right and acting like he wanted to climb. He stayed along the inside through the far turn but encountered a wall of horses upon entering the stretch, forcing Castellano to wait for racing room. A seam between rivals finally emerged in midstretch and he accelerated through into contention.
Escapefromreality rallied to the lead with less than a sixteenth of a mile remaining and appeared to be in prime position to win, but Revolutionary kept coming determinedly with a flying finish, splitting Siete des Oros along the inside and Escapefromreality to his outside to get up in time.
"The horse has a tendency to not get away cleanly and got himself a little farther back than we would have liked," Pletcher's assistant Michael McCarthy said. "Things went from bad to worse from there, but Javier (Castellano) didn't panic and had faith in the horse. We've known all along the horse had ability. When you are pointing for the Derby, this is a huge steppingstone. That was a big, big step today against some proven horses."
"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," Castellano explained. "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."
Revolutionary earned 10 points in the new "Road to the Kentucky" points system and the May 4 Run for the Roses is definitely in the plans for the well-regarded colt.
"Very impressed. Obviously things didn't go well out of the gate, but he hung in there and Javier did a nice job of being patient. Finally, when he got some room, he came running," WinStar CEO and racing manager Elliott Walden said. "When you're looking at a race like the Derby, potentially down the road, to get that kind of experience, it's invaluable. Nice race. He couldn't blow out a match in the winner's circle."
Off at 3-4 odds, Revolutionary paid $3.50, $3 and $2.10 to his supporters after stopping the teletimer in a respectable 1:44 1/5.
"He kind of got intimidated a little bit between horses, he's a young horse, but I really like the way he did it," Castellano said. "He split horses, finished very strong, and galloped out great. He's a horse with potential. Handicapping the race, I would have liked to be close to the pace -- second, third, or fourth. It didn't work out that way, he didn't break that good, and I ended up almost last on the first turn. But the way the race developed, he learned a lot and I think he's going to go forward."
Runner-up Escapefromreality, the 16-1 fourth choice in the wagering, finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of the 9-1 Siete des Oros. Amerigo Vespucci wound up another length back in fourth and was followed by Champion Boy, Smooth Bert, Valid and Long River.
Revolutionary placed in his first three starts sprinting before breaking his maiden by an eye-catching 8 1/2-length margin in his two-turn debut at Aqueduct on December 28. He is from the first crop of 2007 champion two-year-old colt War Pass, who carried his speed to wins in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Grade 1 Champagne, but it's no surprise to see the dark bay colt relish longer distances given the stamina influences in his outstanding female family.
Bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, Revolutionary hails from an outstanding female family. His dam, the A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors, won the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at 1 1/4 miles in 1997 and finished second in a pair of Grade 1 events, the Spinster and Ballerina, in 1998. She is also the dam of Grade 2 runner-up Tafaseel and Runup the Colors is out of the Grade 2-winning mare Up the Flagpole, who produced four graded/group stakes winners including Broodmare of the Year Prospectors Delite, the dam of Horse of the Year Mineshaft and multiple Grade 1 queen Tomisue's Delight.
After initially selling for $80,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September sale, Revolutionary was purchased by WinStar for $235,000 at last year's OBS March two-year-old sale.
With the $120,000 payday from the $200,000 Withers, Revolutionary has now earned $188,500 from a 5-2-1-2 record.
Walden was asked what's next for the very promising colt.
"We'll talk with Todd (Pletcher) and we'll see," Walden said. "I'd be inclined to take him to Florida (to train) 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 trail. This race was worth three in terms of education."