Aqueduct Racetrack Notes - Feb. 3, 2013
By NYRA Press Office | 02/03/2013 04:34 PM ET
Withers hero Revolutionary, Busher victress Princess of Sylmar one step closer to spring classics
Withers runner-up to target G3 Gotham, G1 Wood Memorial
Toboggan winner Head Heart Hoof possible for G3 Tom Fool
Cluster of Stars exits Correction victory in good order
Field coming together for Dearly Precious
Both of trainer Todd Pletcher’s sophomores emerged from their victories Saturday at Aqueduct in good order as their connections began outlining the next steps in their promising careers.
Revolutionary, whose late charge carried him past Escapefromreality after an eventful trip in the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers, will depart for Pletcher’s Florida base at Palm Meadows training center on Tuesday to prepare for any one of a number of final preps for the May 4 Kentucky Derby. Among the possibilities are the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6 at the Big A.
WinStar president, CEO and racing manager Elliott Walden called the War Pass colt’s journey – in which he trailed in eighth through a pedestrian half-mile in 48.18, rounded the turn in traffic, came off the fence heading into the stretch, ducked back inside with 300 yards to go, split rivals in the lane and came charging late to win by a neck – highly educational.
“I was watching the replay of the race a little while ago, and there was nothing good about it except for the last two or three jumps,” agreed Pletcher’s assistant, Michael McCarthy. “That may have been one of the worst winning trips I’ve ever seen.”
Revolutionary’s stablemate, Princess of Sylmar, has a much easier time as she rolled by seven lengths in the $100,000 Busher, her fourth straight win, all around two turns. Next up for the Majestic Warrior filly will be Aqueduct’s Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle on April 6, said McCarthy.
“It doesn’t seem, by watching her out here this morning, that the race took much out of her,” he said. “She’ll have a nice bit of a break until the first Saturday in April for the Gazelle. She’ll get back to work a few weeks before. Hopefully we can get lucky again and work towards a spot in the [May 3] Kentucky Oaks.
“The way she finishes her races you’d have to think 1 1/8 miles would be well within her scope, maybe even a little further, during the summer,” he added. “I think we’ll get a good gauge of where we’re at in the Gazelle with other horses shipping in from the south.”
McCarthy added that Johannesburg Smile, who in his first start for Pletcher and owner Mike Repole finished second to Head Heart Hoof in the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, emerged from his effort in good order as well but said that no plans had been made for his next start.
Escapefromreality, second in yesterday’s Grade 3 Withers, will now target Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Gotham on March 2 and Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 6, trainer Dominick Schettino said Sunday morning.
“We’re planning on running in the Gotham and the Wood, depending on how he comes out of the race once we start him back training,” said Schettino, who trains the homebred for MaryEllen and Anthony Bonomo. “We’ll decide from there, but we’ll point for the Gotham and Wood.”
In the Withers, Escapefromreality broke on top but was taken in hand by apprentice jockey Jose Ortiz and rated in fifth behind an opening half-mile in 48.18 seconds. Angled into the three path in the run to the furlong marker, Escapefromreality quickly overtook the leaders and appeared home free before Revolutionary made a furious late surge along the inside.
The 1 1/16-mile Withers was Escapefromreality’s first start beyond six furlongs and against open company. The New York-bred debuted a two-length winner in a 5 ½-furlong maiden race on Aqueduct’s main track November 25 and missed by a neck when second in a six-furlong allowance on the inner track December 28.
“I thought he ran exceptionally well [in the Withers], first time going two turns, lightly raced, coming out of two sprints, he rated,” said Schettino. “I’m very happy with the way he ran.”
Head Heart Hoof was reported to be in fine fettle by trainer Rudy Rodriguez the day after the 7-year-old gelding won his first graded stakes, the Grade 3 Toboggan, in his 50th start.
“We were very happy with the way he came out of it,” said Rodriguez. “Everything was very nice. He looked very happy. He’s a very nice, sound horse, and he loves to win. And he loves the inner track, too. Ever since he was a baby he has loved the inner track. He’s a very easy horse to train, and we just have to keep him happy.”
Rodriguez said the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap on March 2 would be a logical spot for Head Heart Hoof to make his next start. Like the Toboggan, the Tom Fool is contested at six furlongs on the inner track.
“We’re going to keep everything open,” said Rodriguez. “I’ll talk to [owner] Michael Dubb and see what’s the best spot, but I think we should go to the Tom Fool. It looks like he loves the inner track and it looks like he’ll be competing with the same horses, and time-wise it’s perfect.”
Rodriguez added that Kelli Got Frosty, a distant second to Princess of Sylmar in Saturday’s Busher, came out of the race in good shape.
“We just have to place [Kelli Got Frosty] where Pletcher isn’t,” said Rodriguez. “Pletcher’s filly is unbelievable. It was an easy pace, but she just sprinted away from them. She’s just a very special filly, and we were second best, I think.”
Cluster of Stars, who extended her record to 3-for-3 when she headed multiple stakes winner Nicole H at the wire in the $100,000 Correction, returned from her winning effort in good order Sunday morning, reported Steve Asmussen’s assistant trainer, Toby Sheets.
“She seems to have come back well,” he said. “As far as what’s next, we’ll take her back to the track in a while and go from there.”
Owned by Turtle Bird Stable – which campaigned Grade 1 winner Haynesfield, also a New York-bred – Cluster of Stars was making her first stakes start and first start in open company in the Correction. The 4-year-old Greeley’s Galaxy filly broke her maiden a year ago at the Big A, returning last month to post a 6 ¼-length optional claimer.
Kiss the Lady and Railtown Girl, the runner-up and third-place finisher behind Lady Banks in last month’s Ruthless, head the probables for Saturday’s 18th running of the $75,000 Dearly Precious for 3-year-old fillies. The six-furlong race also is expected to attract Cubicle Queen, a maiden winner at the Dearly Precious distance on January 5, and Elghayoor, a close-up second in both her starts. According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, Agualinda, most recently third in an optional claimer, and Nanaja, winner of two of three starts at Parx Racing including the restricted Donna Freyer stakes, are possible.