09/10/2016 6:37PM

Wellabled leads gate to wire in Arlington-Washington Futurity

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Wellabled, with E.T. Baird up, wins the Arlington-Washington Futurity on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Whether Wellabled ever is able to transfer his Arlington form to other venues remains to be seen, and his race at Saratoga last month was not a positive indicator.

But over the Polytrack here at Arlington on Saturday, Wellabled was a lot of horse, and he dominated the Grade 3, $100,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity, leading all the way en route to a 7 3/4–length win.

“He’s the real deal,” winning jockey E.T. Baird said.

Baird was aboard July 9 when Wellabled, a son of Shackleford out of the In Excess mare Expressive Diva, won his debut by 7 1/2 lengths. Trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Carolyn Wilson sent Wellabled to Saratoga, intending to run in the Saratoga Special, but Wellabled struggled working over the main track there, and wound up in the Skidmore Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. He was beaten a nose.

But the outcome Saturday seemed in doubt for no more than an instant. Baird masterfully breaks horses from the gate, but he said it was his mount that launched himself into the Futurity faster than any of his rivals, and Wellabled was on the lead the first stride of the race. Star Empire was urged to press the leader through a quarter in a very moderate 23.42 seconds and an opening half–mile in 46.08, but while Tyler Gaffalione on the presser was scrubbing for effort at the quarter-pole, Baird had yet to move a muscle.

Romeo O Romeo came three wide and turning into the straightaway briefly looked like he would battle Wellabled, but Wellabled dashed clear again and widened his lead the final eighth, coming home a decisive winner.

Wellabled’s posted winning time of 1:21 and change was erroneous, the timer having stopped well before the finish. The race was hand-timed by the local chart crew in a more reasonable 1:24.70. Romeo O Romeo edged Star Empire for second by a head. The winner paid $5 as the favorite.

“He’s got all the talent in the world,” Rivelli said. “He was a man among boys at the sale.”

“The sale” was a Florida 2-year-old-in training sale this past spring at which Wilson went to $340,000 to acquire the fast-breezing colt whose legs all move in a tangle, but move very fast. Baird said the colt is rate-able and smart, and Rivelli believes Wellabled can stretch out to route distances, but the Saratoga dirt-training experience has left him wondering if Wellabled will act on dirt like he has on Polytrack. Therefore, there are no fall plans yet set for Wellabled, though he left no doubt Saturday of his talent – at Arlington, at least.

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