Todd Pletcher has so many promising Derby contenders, even his maiden winners are getting top billing in stakes. On Feb. 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Pletcher sends out the highly regarded Revolutionary in the $200,000 Withers Stakes.
Owned by WinStar Farm and bred by William S. Farish, the son of War Pass -- Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy, broke his maiden last time out by 8 1/2 lengths over Transparent, who came back and romped himself in a maiden race at Aqueduct Jan. 26.
While his fellow Pletcherites are frolicking in the Florida sun, Revolutionary has been holding down the fort in the winter wilds of New York. Javier Castellano flies up for the mount and will break from post 3 in the eight-horse field.
Revolutionary had a run of horrible starts, in which he was plowed into coming out of the gate. After three bad incidents, in which he wound up near the back of the pack, he finally got a good break in his Dec. 28 maiden race and demolished his field, covering the mile in 1:36.52.
The Withers is the second leg of the newly formed series of preps for the Wood Memorial Stakes that consists of the Jerome Stakes, won by Vyjack, and the Gotham Stakes March 2.
The Withers should not be a cakewalk for Revolutionary, as he is up against several talented horses, with his main threat likely to come from the Parx shipper Siete de Oros. Equipped with blinkers for the first time in the Jerome, the gelded son of A.P. Warrior, who sold for $2,000 as yearling to owner-trainer Ramon Preciado, dug in gamely when challenged by the undefeated Vyjack and just missed by a head at 41-1. He drew post 6 with Maria Remedio aboard.
Bringing in a true blue-blooded pedigree is Darley's Long River, a son of A.P. Indy out of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Long River broke his maiden by three-quarters of a length at Aqueduct Dec. 15, but got caught behind traffic in the Jerome and could do no better than fourth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths.
He is expected to show improvement off that effort. He will add the anti-bleeding medication Salix, and breaks from the rail under Irad Ortiz Jr.
McLaughlin also will run Darley's Valid, a $500,000 yearling who broke his maiden by 3 3/4 lengths at Laurel Park Dec. 31. The Virginia-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro will have Junior Alvarado up and break from post 2, alongside his stablemate.
New York-bred Smooth Bert, a son of Smooth Jazz, captured the state-bred Damon Runyon Stakes at a mile in the slop Dec. 9. Prior to that he was a well-beaten fifth in the Bertram Bongard Stakes following a 4 3/4-length maiden score in the mud at Belmont Park.
The remainder of the field is made up of Amerigo Vespucci, who was third in the Jerome and gets blinkers added; another New York-bred, Escapefromreality; and Champion Boy.