05/16/2009 12:00AM

Affirmatif's talent trumps immaturity


BALTIMORE Affirmatif did not settle properly. He did not go on with it immediately when he made the lead. But his raw talent won out on Saturday at Pimlico in the $50,000 Woodlawn Stakes, and the promise he showed has his trainer, Todd Pletcher, eager to see him mature.

"He's big and still learning things," Pletcher said after Affirmatif ($2.80), the heavy favorite, scored by 2 1/4 lengths in the Woodlawn. "But he's obviously got a lot of ability. He's got to learn how to settle a little more. He pulled early. And then he got lost when he made the lead. But the good news is he's really talented, and hopefully there's more to come."

Affirmatif was making only his third start, which followed a powerful debut win at Gulfstream and then a surprising loss in a Keeneland allowance race. In the Woodlawn, at one mile on grass, he was eager when moving around the first turn, but then settled into a perfect stalking trip under jockey John Velazquez.

After surging to the lead at the top of the stretch, though, Affirmatif swapped leads through the stretch, bore in and out, and basically acted like a big baby. But he was never in danger from any of his rivals. He completed one mile on firm turf in 1:35.70.

Lonely Whistle, a 34-1 shot, came on late to finish second, edging Hero's Image, who faded in the final strides to finish third.

Affirmatif, 3, a colt by Unbridled's Song, was bred and is owned by the Wertheimer brothers.

Pletcher said the Hill Prince Stakes on June 5 at Belmont Park was "a possibility" for Affirmatif's next start.