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Aqueduct: Withers could propel Revolutionary onto Kentucky Derby trail
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Revolutionary will try to join his more celebrated stablemates Shanghai Bobby, Violence, and Overanalyze on the Triple Crown trail when he heads a field of eight entered in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
The Withers, run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track, offers 17 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers. None of the horses entered in the Withers has earned any Derby points.
Revolutionary, owned by WinStar Farm, drew post 3 and will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who will be in from Gulfstream for Saturday’s 10-race card.
Revolutionary, a son of 2007 champion 2-year-old War Pass, enters the Withers off an 8 1/2-length victory in a one-mile maiden race over the inner track on Dec. 28. In covering a mile in 1:36.52, Revolutionary earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure, tops among this field.
Perhaps if his trainer, Todd Pletcher, didn’t have so many Derby-caliber 3-year-olds at Palm Meadows, Revolutionary would have been on the first flight headed to south Florida. But after Pletcher discussed options with Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, the decision was made to keep Revolutionary in New York.
“The initial discussion was to run here and then head south and decide what we want to do, which could include coming back here,” Pletcher said Wednesday in his Belmont Park office. “We’ll see how this race goes on Saturday and analyze.”
Though it took Revolutionary four tries to get his first win, his three losses came with plausible excuses, many of which came at the break of his races.
In his debut at Saratoga, he was clobbered out of the gate and pinched back to last before rallying for third behind Always in a Tiz and Clawback.
In his second start, Revolutionary broke awkwardly and chased Little Distorted around the Belmont oval in what was a freakish performance by the winner.
In his third start, a one-turn mile race at Aqueduct, Revolutionary broke from the rail and was hampered when the horse to his outside, Transparent, came in on him at the start. Revolutionary finished third.
In his first start around two turns, Revolutionary broke sharper, stalked the pace, and beat Transparent by 8 1/2 lengths. Transparent came back to win his next start.
In the Withers, Revolutionary will be taking on just one stakes winner – Smooth Bert, who won the Damon Runyon for New York-breds in December.
“Seems like a good spot,” Pletcher said. “Interested to see how he progresses. We were shopping for an easier spot. This time of year you wouldn’t anticipate a lot of people shipping in.”
The two horses shipping in are Mid-Atlantic-based Siete de Oros and Amerigo Vespucci, the second- and third-place finishers from the Grade 3 Jerome here on Jan. 5.
Long River, fourth in the Jerome, drew the rail and will get Lasix for the first time. He is coupled with Valid, a recent maiden winner at Laurel who drew post 2.
A surprise entrant to the field was Champion Boy, a son of Big Brown who is coming off a maiden win sprinting here on Jan. 20.
Johannesburg Smile in Toboggan
Pletcher will be active in two of the other three stakes on Saturday’s card, including the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan at six furlongs with Johannesburg Smile.
Owner Mike Repole claimed Johannesburg Smile for $100,000 out of a win going a mile and 70 yards on Jan. 4.
Johannesburg Smile, a son of Johannesburg, has not run six furlongs since his first two starts, which came in the fall of 2009. He finished fourth in both those races.
“He looks like the kind that runs well at all distances,” Pletcher said.
Johannesburg Smile will break from the rail in a field that includes the uncoupled entry of Head Heart Hoof and Sinai, both trained by Rudy Rodriguez, and an uncoupled entry of P.J.’s Magical Wink and Mine Over Matter, trained by Mike Hushion. Isn’t He Perfect, second in the Evening Attire and third in the Gravesend, completes the field.
Princess of Sylmar heads Busher
Pletcher has three of the five 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Busher Stakes, topped by Princess of Sylmar, the authoritative winner of the Busanda Stakes here on Jan. 5.
After finishing fourth in her debut sprinting at Penn National, Princess of Sylmar has reeled off three consecutive victories by a combined 31 3/4 lengths. She will break from post 2.
Pletcher also entered Komono and Marcellina d’Oro.
Kelli Got Frosty, a 9 1/2-length winner of the East View Stakes for New York-breds, looms the major threat to Princess of Sylmar.
Let Me Entertain U completes the field.
Nicole H seeks Correction repeat
Nicole H, undefeated in five starts – all stakes – over the inner track, was one of three supplements to Saturday’s $100,000 Correction Stakes.
Nicole H, who won her third consecutive Interborough Stakes on New Year’s Day, seeks her second straight Correction. She will break from post 4 under Channing Hill.
North Freeway and Ode to Sami were also supplemented to the Correction field. North Freeway will be coupled with Singlet as both are owned in part by Michael Dubb.
Cluster of Stars, impressive winning both of her starts, albeit 11 months apart, makes her stakes debut for Turtle Bird Stable and the Steve Asmussen stable.
Englehart starts 60-day suspension
Trainer Chris Englehart on Thursday began serving a 60-day suspension for one of his horses having tested for too high a pre-race level of total carbon dioxide.
The horse Pawley’s Porch, who finished third at Belmont on June 2, 2012, had a pre-race total carbon dioxide level of 40.4 millimoles per liter, slightly above the 39 millimoles for horses who have been administered Lasix.
When initially handed the penalty in September, Englehart said he planned to appeal. On Wednesday, he said he dropped the appeal due to cost.
“It’ll cost a ridiculous amount of money to fight it – that’s worse than the days,” said Englehart, who has won 3,322 races in his career. “I had a hearing with the racing and wagering board and they were adamant about giving me 60 days.”
During his suspension, Englehart’s horses will run under his assistant Manuel Gonzalez’s name.
If Englehart had the bread I bet he would fight it...so just take the sixty days & let the assistant run the show...same old same old...
I have no doubt champion boy will be in the derby, or another raceofthe triplecrown, he has the class to deal with derby issues, he justneed timeand will come true
Not saying he will win but I really like the horse Amerigo Vespucci. Surprised they have not run him on the grass yet given both parents and his running style. Hopefully the blinkers keep him a little more involved early. Also it would be nice to see Long River run a nice race. How can you not love his pedigree.
I have Champion Boy coming in third in the maiden race.
another trainer who tries to keep it barely under the legal level. the horse must be getting some kind of advantage with 39 millimoles.