Thoroughbred Racing

Up the Backstretch: Evolution of Revolutionary

By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - Trainers with thoughts of having any of their 3-year-olds compete in the Kentucky Derby must decide when to begin the horse's racing season and discover any potential.

Saturday's Withers Stakes at Aqueduct is the starting point for several horses and one in particular from the stable of leading trainer Todd Pletcher. The 5- time Eclipse Award winning trainer has chosen the 1 1/16-mile Withers as the 2013 debut for highly regarded colt Revolutionary.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Revolutionary took four tries to finally find the winner's circle on Dec. 28 when posting an 8 1/2-length victory at Aqueduct.

"(The improved performance) was a combination of a lot of things, the stretch out, the two turns, the clean start, a good trip," Pletcher noted. "We weren't surprised he did something impressive, and it was the first time everything had gone smoothly."

The colt's career opening race was Sept. 3 at Saratoga when he finished third versus six. Pletcher's trainee had a difficult trip in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint, but managed to rally from last to just 1 1/4 lengths behind Always in a Tiz.

The second start, Oct. 28 at Belmont Park, resulted in a runner-up result to Little Distorted after he raced three wide in the six-furlong test.

"He didn't have a bad trip when he was second at Belmont," Pletcher said, "but I thought the track that day was very speed favoring and it was hard to make up ground. A talented horse got loose and we just couldn't run him down, and he had a horrible start in the one-turn race at Aqueduct."

The one-turn race at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving Day weekend saw Revolutionary racing along the inside four lengths from the lead, but unable to make up any ground down the stretch.

The Withers is the fifth straight race in which Revolutionary is favored being slotted as the 3-5 top choice.

"The key will be for him to break cleanly and put himself in a good stalking position, or if it were a paceless race he could possibly be on the lead," Pletcher said. "The main thing is we want him to get away cleanly and get into a nice rhythm."

Javier Castellano has the riding assignment for the Withers. The veteran jockey won the 2006 edition with that year's Preakness champ Bernardini. Pletcher seeks his second Withers title to go along with the 2008 victory with Harlem Rocker.

Winning the Withers will be worth 10 points toward starting in the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Accumulate enough points during the run-up to the Run for the Roses and Revolutionary will have the chance to give his trainer a second win on the first Saturday in May in just four years.

01/31 12:06:14 ET