10/15/2016 2:02PM

Theory proves himself in winning Futurity

New York Racing Association photo
Theory and jockey Javier Castellano win the Grade 3 Futurity by 3 1/2 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Theory made a successful return to the races Saturday, winning the Grade 3, $200,000 Futurity at Belmont Park by 3 1/2 lengths in a performance that could propel him to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in three weeks at Santa Anita.

Making his first start since winning his debut at Saratoga on July 30, Theory, the 1-5 favorite, chased the pacesetting Moves Like Ali through a quarter-mile in 22.62 seconds, a half in 45.35, and five-eighths in 57.40 before switching leads and taking over inside the eighth pole.

Theory ($2.70) widened his advantage in the final sixteenth while covering six furlongs in 1:09.91. He wasn’t done yet, as he galloped out another quarter of a mile under Javier Castellano.

“He galloped out steady and strong; that’s what made me more excited. When you ask him, he responded,” Castellano said.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said the performance gives him and owners WinStar Farm and the China Horse Club plenty of options for the fall, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. That would mean stretching out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

“With the way he ran, the way he galloped out, and the way he came back, we have to have that discussion,” Pletcher said.

Theory was an impressive 5 1/2-length winner at Saratoga on July 30 and was pointing to the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept 3. In late August, Pletcher wasn’t happy with the way Theory was training, and the colt was eventually sent back to WinStar Farm. The horse was evaluated, and the only issue was a foot bruise.

He was sent back to Pletcher in about two weeks, and the horse breezed four times leading up to this.

In his debut, Theory won on the lead. On Saturday, he showed the ability to stalk, pounce, and finish.

“He’s a very good-minded horse, he’s got a great disposition, he’s not headstrong in any way; I anticipated he would rate fine and wasn’t surprised that he did,” Pletcher said.

Star Empire rallied for second in the Futurity, a length ahead of Moves Like Ali. The Walk, who stumbled at the break, and Reckling completed the order of finish.

Pletcher said he did not ask Castellano for such a lengthy gallop-out.

“He actually galloped out further than I probably would have told Javier to gallop out, but he hasn’t run in a while,” Pletcher said. “The way he ran today, the way he finished puts us in a position where we’ve got a lot of options.”

If his connections decide to skip the Breeders’ Cup, Theory could be pointed to the Nashua, a one-turn mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 4, or the Kentucky Jockey Club, a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.