01/31/2013 4:51PM

Aqueduct: Revolutionary aims to back up big win in Withers


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Before trainer Todd Pletcher officially welcomes Revolutionary to his deep bench of Kentucky Derby candidates, he wants to see the colt put forth another performance similar to his last.

On Dec. 28, Revolutionary galloped to an 8 1/2-length maiden victory over Aqueduct’s inner track, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 102 and flashing the potential that led him to be heavily favored in all four of his starts.

Saturday, Revolutionary figures to be an odds-on favorite to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct and thus join stablemates Shanghai Bobby, Violence, and Overanalyze as Pletcher trainees on the Triple Crown trail.

The Withers, run at 1 1/16-miles over Aqueduct’s inner track, offers 17 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers.

“I think this race will tell us where he stands in the division,” Pletcher said Thursday. “His last race, from a speed figure standpoint, puts him right at the top. We need to see another top performance like that and come up with a game plan after that.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Revolutionary is a son of 2007 champion 2-year-old War Pass out of the Grade 1 Alabama winner Runup the Colors. He is owned by WinStar Farm, which purchased Revolutionary for $235,000 at Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s March 2012 auction of 2-year-olds in training.

After some trouble at the start of his first three races, which contributed to his losses, Revolutionary broke alertly in his fourth start, got a stalking, outside trip, and galloped home an impressive winner, running a mile in 1:36.52.

“He showed hints that he was good in some of his previous races and his training, but that was a breakthrough performance,” Pletcher said. “We’re hoping for another clean start and a smooth trip. We’re excited about his last race and hoping we can do that again.”

Due to concern over the condition of the Belmont training track, Pletcher skipped a final workout for Revolutionary. On Jan. 20, Revolutionary had a very strong half-mile workout with a solid three-furlong gallop out.

“All of these horses had really good works 13 days out, we thought it better off to take a cautious approach,” said Pletcher, who was also referring to the other horses he runs in stakes here Saturday.

Javier Castellano will ride Revolutionary from post 2.

Revolutionary will face a modest field in the Withers. Smooth Bert, winner of the Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds, is the lone stakes winner in the eight-horse field.

Siete de Oros and Amerigo Vespucci, second and third, respectively, behind Vyjack in the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes here Jan. 5, will return from the Mid-Atlantic region. Trainer Tim Tullock will add blinkers to Amerigo Vespucci’s equipment.

Long River, who finished fourth in the Jerome, also is back for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Last year, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing won the Withers with Alpha.

Long River appeared to be a bit one-paced in the Jerome and never threatened the top two while getting beat a half-length for third. He will get Lasix for the first time in the Withers after bleeding in the Jerome.

“On the scope, there was enough [blood] to warrant running on Lasix,” said Art Magnuson, McLaughlin’s New York-based assistant.

Magnuson said that Long River has been training “very sharp” since the Jerome.

“He’s getting much sharper mentally, pulls a little harder,” Magnuson said. “We’re not trying to create an inner-track-type horse; this is the way he’s developing. I think he’s going to run very well.”

Long River will be coupled with Valid, who finished ninth in his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct before winning a one-mile maiden race at Laurel by 3 3/4 lengths.

“I don’t know if he beat a lot at Laurel, but he did it very well and he’s gaining strides all the time,” Magnuson said. “It’s good timing to try this kind of a spot.”

Espcapefromreality, a New York-bred son of Read the Footnotes, will be stretching out in distance after a win and a second sprinting.

The Withers will go as race 9 on a 10-race card at Aqueduct that also includes the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, the $100,000 Correction, and the $100,000 Busher Stakes.