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.
Among the possibilities are the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6 at the Big A.
WinStar president, CEO and racing manager Elliott Walden called the War Pass colt's journey -- in which he trailed in eighth through a pedestrian half-mile in :48, rounded the turn in traffic, came off the fence heading into the stretch, ducked back inside with 300 yards to go, split rivals in the lane and came charging late to win by a neck -- highly educational.
"I was watching the replay of the race a little while ago, and there was nothing good about it except for the last two or three jumps," agreed Pletcher's assistant, Michael McCarthy. "That may have been one of the worst winning trips I've ever seen."
Escapefromreality, second in the Withers, will now target Aqueduct's Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham at 1 1/16 miles on March 2 before facing a possible rematch with Revolutionary in the Wood Memorial, trainer Dominick Schettino said Sunday morning.
"We're planning on running in the Gotham and the Wood, depending on how he comes out of the race once we start him back training," said Schettino, who trains the homebred son of Read the Footnotes for MaryEllen and Anthony Bonomo. "We'll decide from there, but we'll point for the Gotham and Wood."
In the Withers, Escapefromreality broke on top but was taken in hand by apprentice jockey Jose Ortiz and rated in fifth behind the opening half-mile. Angled into the three path in the run to the furlong marker, the bay gelding quickly overtook the leaders and appeared home free before Revolutionary made a furious late surge along the inside.
The 8 1/2-furlong Withers was Escapefromreality's first start beyond six furlongs and against open company. The New York-bred debuted a two-length winner in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race on Aqueduct's main track November 25 and missed by a neck when second in a six-furlong allowance on the inner dirt December 28.
"I thought he ran exceptionally well (in the Withers), first time going two turns, lightly raced, coming out of two sprints, he rated," Schettino added. "I'm very happy with the way he ran."