Friday, February 1, 2013

Withers Stakes Racing Roundup

Trainer Todd Pletcher hopes to add another young colt to his stable of Kentucky Derby qualifiers when he sends Revolutionary to the starting gate Saturday as the prohibitive 3-5 morning line favorite in 132nd running of the $200,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Revolutionary has been on my watch list since last summer and I wrote about him in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook.
As a 2-year-old, Revolutionary did not fully live up to my expectations. He finished third in his maiden debut last September and followed up with a second- and third-place finish in his next two races. He finished his 2-year-old racing season, and finally broke his maiden on his fourth attempt, winning a one mile race at Aqueduct with an impressive 8½-length victory over six other young Thoroughbreds.
Revolutionary earned a 103 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. His final time of 1:36.52 showed promise of things to come and is in the time zone of what I’m looking for in a colt that I believe may have classic potential.
Revolutionary is a descendant of the Cherokee Run sire line and in my July 3 blog of 2009 I noted the importance of keeping track of colts from that line when they stretch out to route racing.
Over the years, the Cherokee Run sire line has produced a lot of good middle- distance runners such as War Pass, the sire of Revolutionary. Other good runners from the Cherokee Run sire line include: Yonaguska, Kafwain, Sir Cherokee, During, Chelokee, Zanjero, Recapturetheglory, Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.
As a 2-year-old, Revolutionary’s sire War Pass won the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) en route to being crowned the 2007 Eclipse Champion Two-Year-old Colt. As a 3-year-old, War Pass finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) but an injury kept him from competing in the Kentucky Derby.
In addition, the distaff pedigree of Revolutionary is very strong and the tail-female line is reinforced with the stallions A.P. Indy, Hoist The Flag, Herbager and Court Martial.
Revolutionary’s tail-female line descends from the outstanding foundation mare La Troienne (Family 1-x) and, over the years, that line has produced eight Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Super Saver (2010), Smarty Jones (2004), Go For Gin (1994), Sea Hero (1993), Prairie Bayou (1993), Easy Goer (1989), Personality (1970) and Bimelech (1940).
Whether Revolutionary has any classic potential remains to be seen. But, if he continues to improve as a 3-year-old he could be competitive on the Derby Trail and I look for him to be competitive in the Withers.
A long shot I like in this race is Amerigo Vespucci (15-1). He’s been on my watch list since last summer and this is his first run in a Derby-qualifying race.
In five starts, Amerigo Vespucci has never finished out of the money. In his debut as a 3-year-old, he finished third in the Jerome Stakes (G2), three lengths behind the second-place finisher Siete de Oros who is also entered in the Withers.
Amerigo Vespucci has room to improve in his second start as a 3-year-old and while four of his previous races have been in sprints, I think that he will perform better as the races get longer – he has the breeding to be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Henrythenavigator, the sire of Amerigo Vespucci, was an outstanding colt and classic champion winner of the English and Irish 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group1). He also finished second in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). In his second and third generations, Amerigo Vespucci also gets good influence from the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Kingmambo, Sadler’s Wells and Miesque who was an outstanding filly and classic winner in France and a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile Stakes (G1).
The distaff pedigree with Fly Till Dawn, as the damsire is also pretty good and adds stamina to the pedigree. Fly Till Dawn raced mostly on grass, compiling a 9-5-2 record in 19 turf starts. He was competitive from a mile to a mile and three-quarters winning such races as the Arcadia Handicap (G3) and the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (G1) to name a few.
Big Spruce, the sire of the second dam, was good runner on turf and dirt winning such races as the Lexington Handicap, San Luis Rey Stakes (G1), Marlboro Cup Handicap and Governor’s Stakes (G1). He was competitive from 9- to 13-furlongs and a two-time, back-to-back winner of the 13-furlong Gallant Fox Handicap (G2).
Amerigo Vespucci’s dam, Senza Paura, and third dam, Inca Queen, were stakes winners.
The addition of blinkers and a couple of recent bullet workouts could have Amerigo Vespucci ready to run a good race.
Since his off-the-board, fifth-place finish in his maiden debut last September, Sieto de Oros has compiled a 2-1-1 record in five starts and he comes into the Withers with a narrow loss by a head to Vyjack in the Jerome Stakes (G2). If he repeats the form of his performance in the Jerome, Sieto de Oros should be competitive.
The Darley Stable’s coupled entry of Long River and Valid are the 7-2 morning line second choice. Long River comes into the Withers off of a fourth-place finish in the Jerome. He’ll have to improve his game to be competitive but the extra distance could benefit him. Valid is an improving colt but he’s moving up in class and he’s yet to run in a stakes race.


Revolutionary – as well as the other young horses entered in the Withers Stakes – has yet to earn any Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the new scoring system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for horses to enter the Derby starting gate. The winner of the Withers will receive 10 points while second-place will yield 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 1 point.
A win in the Withers Stakes would put Revolutionary in the Leaderboard top 20 of the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” and give Pletcher a total five Derby qualifiers. Whether that happens and if Pletcher is the leading trainer with the most entries on the first Saturday in May remains to be seen. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:

Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated January 27, 2013)

Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer
1 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher
2 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill
3 = Oxbow, 11, D. Wayne Lukas
4 = Violence, 10, Todd Pletcher
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr.
6 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher
7 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse
8 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert
9 = Steeler, 10, Mark Johnson
10 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas
11 = River Seven, 10, Nick Gonzalez
12 = Den’s Legacy, 6, Bob Baffert
13 = Tesseron, 5, Josie Carroll
14 = Bern Identity, 4, Kelly Breen
15 = He’s Had Enough, 4, Doug O’Neill
16= Capo Bastone, 4, Todd Pletcher
17 = Dynamic Sky, 4, Mark Casse
18 = Know More, 4, Doug O’Neill
19 = Texas Bling, 4, Danele Durham
20 = Fury Kapcori, 4, Jerry Hollendorfer


  1. Hi Calvin,
    I am so excited about Revolutionary's win. Not just for the way in which he won, but also because of his sire. I was hooked on War Pass in 2008, then so disappointed when he was injured (even worse when I learned he had passed away). If Revolutionary continues to develop and run the way he showed us today, I have high hopes we will see him at the Derby, to carry on for War Pass (maybe even win? lol)He has a great pedigree!

  2. Sharon,

    I'm glad to see him win too. I also like his pedigree - looking forward to see how he fares on the Derby Trail.

    Thanks for contributing to my blog.

  3. You're welcome, Calvin. I always look forward to reading your blog.
    Two questions:First - Thinking of War Pass, whatever happened to that other son of his, Java's War? I don't recall hearing about him again.
    Second question - a while back, I had mentioned something about Princequillo (he was in someone's pedigree), and you said you were doing some research on his line. Had you posted anything about Princequillo on your blog, and I missed it?

  4. Sharon,

    I think I read somewhere (don't remember the sourse) that Java's War will be making his debut soon.

    I haven't posted anything about the Princequillo on my blog yet as I've been busy researching material for my new book.