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Revolutionary takes first stakes shot in Withers

Withers candidate Siete de Oros (right) narrowly missed in the Jerome (NYRA/Adam Coglianese)

A beaten favorite in his first three outings, including twice as an odds-on choice, Revolutionary finally put it all together as an even-money favorite in a December 28 maiden at Aqueduct. He did it emphatically, too, scoring by 8 1/2 lengths over next-out winner Transparent. Off that commanding performance, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt might go favored in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Withers, a 1 1/16-mile test over the Big A's inner track.

"(The improved performance) was a combination of a lot of things, the stretch out the, two turns, the clean start, a good trip," Todd Pletcher said. "We weren't surprised he did something impressive, and it was the first time everything had gone smoothly. He didn't have a bad trip when he was second at Belmont, 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."

A son of juvenile champion War Pass, the WinStar Farm-owned Revolutionary has always been one of the more intriguing pedigree prospects of this classic crop. His dam, Grade 1 Alabama winner Runup the Colors, is a half-sister to Broodmare of the Year Prospectors Delite, who reared Horse of the Year Mineshaft and multiple Grade 1 winner Tomisue's Delight, among others.

The Withers, which highlights a four-stakes program Saturday, is the second in a series of four classic preps at Aqueduct this winter and spring. The first was the Grade 2 Jerome on January 5, which has yielded other Withers contenders Siete de Oros, Amerigo Vespucci, and Long River. The trio occupied the second, third, and fourth slots, respectively, in that test, with Siete de Oros missing narrowly by a head to Vyjack as a 41-1 longshot.

"He ran a really good race. Blinkers made a big change with him; he was concentrating more," owner-trainer Ramon Preciado said of Siete de Oros. "After the race, he was even better than he came in."

Amerigo Vespucci, twice stakes-placed at Laurel prior to the Jerome, flattened out a bit in the stretch and will be equipped with blinkers for the first time Saturday. Long River, who forms a Darley Stable-owned entry with last-out maiden winner Valid, will race with Lasix for the first time in the Withers.

The field is rounded out by two New York-breds facing open company for the first time -- stakes winner Smooth Bert and maiden winner Escapefromreality -- and the maiden Champion Boy, who makes only his second career start in a difficult spot.

State-breds comprise half of the six older horses in the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan over six furlongs. Owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the last two editions of the race with Calibrachoa, are represented by Johannesburg Smile, who was claimed for $100,000 out of a winning effort at Aqueduct January 4.

The other New York-bred competitors are Head Heart Hoof, who took a starter stakes over the Toboggan course and distance January 9, and Hudson winner Mine Over Matter. Isn't He Perfect, stakes-placed in six of his past seven starts, is another logical threat.

Nicole H will be a heavy favorite if she goes in the Correction (Melissa Wirth/Horsephotos.com)

Grade 2 queen Nicole H will be an overwhelming favorite in the $100,000 Correction for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Five-for-five over Aqueduct's inner dirt, she exits a third consecutive win in the Interborough, which was contested on New Year's Day.

Should Nicole H wait for the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel later this month, the main contenders in the Correction will be Garland of Roses winner Singlet, and the New York-bred Cluster of Stars, who has taken both career starts by a combined margin of 11 3/4 lengths.

The $100,000 Busher, a 1 1/16-mile heat for three-year-old fillies, features Princess of Sylmar, who landed the January 5 Busanda by 7 1/2 lengths for her third straight win. The daughter of Majestic Warrior has hardly broken a sweat during her current skein, having won a Penn National maiden by 19 lengths and an Aqueduct allowance by 5 1/4 lengths prior to the Busanda.

Her main challenger might be Kelli Got Frosty, a state-bred who comes off a 9 1/2-length score in the December 9 East View.

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