NO SPEED NO PROBLEM FOR FOSTER FAVORITE REVOLUTIONARY
LOUISVILLE, KY (Friday, June 13, 2014) â€“ Fresh off a most impressive win in the Pimlico Special (Grade III), WinStar Farm LLCâ€™s Revolutionary is seeking his first Grade I victory in Saturday nightâ€™s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) and has been made the 2-1 favorite in a talented field of nine older horses.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Revolutionary was third in last yearâ€™s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and fifth in the Belmont (GI) before his owners opted to give him the rest of 2013 off in order to point to a 4-year-old campaign.
â€œLike a lot of horses that go on the Triple Crown trail, after running in two legs it just kind of made him lose a little bit of weight and he ran a bit of a flat race in the Belmont,â€ Pletcher said. â€œWe felt like he was the kind of horse that could improve as a 4-year-old who could physically mature, develop and come back a bigger, better and stronger horse.
â€œWith the timing of the Belmont being run in June, if you give a horse a meaningful vacation of 45-60 days, it basically eliminates any big race options for the rest of the year. So we just felt like he needed a break and giving it to him then would allow him to come back and compete as a 4-year-old and itâ€™s worked out pretty well so far.â€
Revolutionary won an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park in his 4-year-old debut before running seventh in the Donn Handicap (GI) and second to Will Take Charge in the Oaklawn Handicap (GII) prior to the Pimlico Special win.
â€œThe horse shows up every time,â€ WinStar Farm President/CEO and Racing Manager Elliot Walden said. â€œThe only race he didnâ€™t was the Donn, which was unfortunate because that was a Grade I. But I think heâ€™s a very consistent horse and I think thatâ€™s one of his greatest attributes.â€
The 4-year-old son of War Pass was 30 lengths off the lead after the opening quarter-mile in the Pimlico Special but furiously rallied late in the stretch to edge fellow Foster contender Prayer for Relief by a neck.
â€œI think that was a little unusual for him to drop that far back,â€ Pletcher said. â€œHeâ€™s normally a horse who likes to settle but weâ€™re not looking to get that far behind this time. Weâ€™re just hoping for some pace.â€
Revolutionary will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and joins Champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge, Departing, Mylute, Golden Ticket, Long River and Prayer for Relief in a battle of true closers competing for Grade I glory in the Foster.
Randy Pattersonâ€™s Moonshine Mullin has been the only Foster contender to demonstrate the ability to win a graded stakes race from gate-to-wire, taking the Alysheba (GII) in such fashion on Kentucky Oaks Day for trainer Randy Morse.
Jaguar Paw has shown some early speed in past races, but has yet to win a race from gate-to-wire.
â€œI think Revolutionary is a horse that is tactical enough to handle anything,â€ Walden said. â€œItâ€™s a little funny saying that when he was behind 30 lengths in his last race, but if they go fast; heâ€™s going to be back. If they go slow, heâ€™s going to be closer. So heâ€™s going to run his same speed the first half a mile and if they just run slower, heâ€™ll just be closer, which will give him less to do. Iâ€™m not that concerned about it.â€
Revolutionary will break from the rail for the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster, the eighth of 11 races on Churchillâ€™s â€œDowns After Darkâ€ Saturday card, with an approximate post time of 9:39 p.m. EDT.
â€œI feel good,â€ Walden said. â€œHeâ€™s training great, weâ€™re excited about the race and it looks like heâ€™s improving. The goal for him all year is to try and win a Grade-1, and we feel like weâ€™re in a spot where we have a reasonable chance to do that.â€
A LITTLE BIT SASSY, ISTANFORD SET FOR REGRET REMATCH
Despite capturing the Arlington Classic (GIII) in her last outing, Sam Alley, Janet Alley, Dawn Thrash and Ike Thrashâ€™s Istanford has been made the 9-2 second-choice to Ramona S. Bass LLCâ€™s A Little Bit Sassy (7-2) in Saturday nightâ€™s 1 1/8-mile Regret (GIII) over the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs.
In the Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank, A Little Bit Sassy stalked Istanford in second through the opening three quarters of a mile, was able to command the lead in the stretch and kicked clear of the Michael Stidham-trained Istanford by 1 Â¼ lengths at the wire on Kentucky Oaks Day.
While the Michael Matz-conditioned A Little Bit Sassy has been home training at Fair Hill in Maryland since the Edgewood, Istanford was busy defeating male competition gate-to-wire, taking her first graded stakes victory in the 1 1/16-mile Arlington Classic on May 24.
â€œShe came out of the Edgewood really well,â€ Stidhamâ€™s Churchill Downs assistant Chris Davis said of Istanford. â€œShe worked great and it looked like a good spot since sheâ€™s stabled up at Arlington. She got to stay there and run out of her stall, so we thought with a $150,000 race, weâ€™ll take a shot. The race didnâ€™t come up super tough and we got a good pace scenario. They sat off of her and she got to dictate her pace and kicked home.â€
Of the Regret field of 10, no filly has previously displayed the ability to stalk the pace quite like A Little Bit Sassy did in the Edgewood.
â€œSheâ€™s doing fine, she came out of the Edgewood great and weâ€™ll just see how she is going that extra sixteenth of a mile,â€ Matz said. â€œI hope sheâ€™ll probably just stay right off the pace again and make a run at it.
â€œIt could be a little tougher this time around, you just never know. I donâ€™t think we should be too far behind her (Istanford). But our horse has been doing well, so weâ€™ll see.â€
Subsequently, few Regret contenders have shown a desire to take the early lead as Istanford has in her last four outings, which could make for a similar early setup between her and A Little Bit Sassy in the Regret as seen in the Edgewood.
â€œItâ€™d be nice if she could go out there and set a nice pace for herself,â€ Davis said. â€œGoing a mile and an eighth might be a little tougher, but sheâ€™s doing great. Obviously sheâ€™s so much better on the grass and so hopefully she can continue to improve.â€
Istanford will break from post position seven with jockey James Graham and A Little Bit Sassy will be ridden by Luis Saez from post four in Saturday nightâ€™s Regret, the ninth of 11 races with an approximate post time of 10:11 p.m. EDT.
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