Revolutionary threaded his way through the field and finished with a flourish to win the 133rd running of the Withers Stakes (G3) on Saturday at Aqueduct.
The colt’s narrow victory in the Withers, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds, gave jockey Javier Castellano a 3-for-4 record in Saturday’s stakes at Aqueduct, with the rider’s lone loss being a runner-up finish aboard Johannesburg Smile in the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, won by Head Heart Hoof.
Favored at 3-5 off an 8 ½-length maiden win on Dec. 28, Revolutionary raced behind traffic in sixth through an opening quarter-mile in 24.22 seconds and trailed in eighth through a half in 48.18. Kept along the rail by Castellano around the far turn, Revolutionary came off the fence turning for home, ducked back inside with three sixteenths to travel, split a pair of horses in the lane, and surged late to grab the lead in the final strides.
“He didn’t break that sharp and I didn’t panic,” said Castellano. “I think the key with him is that you have to be patient. I could have gone around horses at the three-eighths pole because I had so much horse, but I just wanted to teach him something, have him learn something. I knew he could get it done; in my mind it was just waiting for the best opportunity to make a move. That’s exactly what I did, and he responded so well today. He’s a classy horse. He kind of got intimidated a little bit between horses, he’s a young horse, but I really like the way he did it. He split horses, finished very strong, and galloped out great.”
Revolutionary, a son of War Pass who was making his fifth start and first around two turns, returned $3.50 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.32..
“We were a little bit handicapped going into the race without having a work six days out, but the horse has been training well and gets a lot out of his gallops,” said Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “The horse has a tendency to not get away cleanly and got himself a little farther back than we would have liked. Things went from bad to worse from there, but Javier [Castellano] didn’t panic and had faith in the horse.”
Elliot Walden, CEO and racing manager for winning owner WinStar Farm, said the adversity Revolutionary encountered in the Withers could prove beneficial as he moves toward a possible start in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4.
“When you’re looking at a race like the Derby, potentially down the road, to get that kind of experience, it’s invaluable,” said Walden. “Nice race. I felt pretty good around the turn because they were so bunched up. It’s not like he was 15 back, he was eight back, but he was in trouble, so you never knew if he was going to get through. You knew if he did get through he’d have some horse. It was nice to see him come running like that. He couldn’t blow out a match in the winner’s circle.”