WinStar Farm's favored Revolutionary, more than 30 lengths behind early following a heated pace, kicked into gear and circled his eight foes to win the $300,000 Pimlico Special (gr. III) by a neck at Pimlico Race Course May 16 (VIDEO).
It was the second big effort in a row by the Todd Pletcher-trained Revolutionary, who in his previous start April 12 rallied despite trouble to finish three-quarters of a length behind the victorious Will Take Charge in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II).
Friday was a big day at Pimlico for Pletcher, who won the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) two races earlier with Stopchargingmaria.
The on-track attendance was 34,736 with the 13-race program generating a handle of $11,346,688.
A 4-year-old colt by War Pass out of the A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors, Revolutionary was bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish. WinStar purchased the colt for $235,000 at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training.
The pace in the Pimlico Special, run on a track rated fast after staring the day sloppy, was set by Valid, who broke from the inside post and was hounded by Moreno for at least seven furlongs of the 1 3/16-mile race. The fractions were :22.75 for the opening quarter mile, :46.98 for the half mile, and 1:11.33 for six furlongs as Golden Lad, Korean-bred Major King, and Cat Burglar raced just off the leaders.
Revolutionary, the 2-1 choice, tailed off 20 lengths behind his nearest opponent in the openng quarter mile under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith.
Moreno, under urging entering the stretch, held a short lead as Cat Burglar snuck through along the inside to challenge after completing one mile in 1:36.60. Meanwhile, Prayer for Relief, who ranged up on the turn, and Revolutionary, who had closed a large gap, took aim on the outside in upper stretch.
Revolutionary surged late under left-handed urging to edge Prayer for Relief at the line in 1:55.99, well off the track record (1:52.55) set by Farma Way in 1991. Cat Burglar was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third, getting the best of Moreno, who was a neck back in fourth.
"I didn't realize I was going to be so far back," Smith said. "I even asked him a little bit coming out of the gate. I was a little concerned and I thought, 'They must be flying out there.' Going past the five-eighths he really started to level off, and I felt confident he was going to run well.
"I didn't know if I would get by them all, but at the quarter pole I was pretty confident."
Revolutionary paid $6.40, $3.60, and $3.20 across the board. Prayer for Relief, who was fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap last time in his first start for trainer Dale Romans, returned $7.20 and $4.60. Cat Burglar returned $4.60 in his stakes debut for trainer Bob Baffert. The $2 exacta was worth $74, while the $1 trifecta paid $217.10.
Revolutionary, third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), also captured the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Withers Stakes (gr. III) last year. He won his 2014 debut in an allowance/optional claiming test in January at Gulfstream Park, and followed up with a seventh-place finish in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 9.
After running fifth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 7, Revolutionary spent the remainder of last season on the sidelines.
"I think he showed last year and as a 2-year-old that he was a really good horse," Pletcher said. "The time off we gave after last year's Belmont Stakes did him well. This was a big effort for him."
Revolutionary, now with a 5-2-3 mark from 12 starts, has earned $1,347,600 for his connections.