09/16/2015 11:21AM

Frosted, Upstart take a chance on quick turnaround in Pa. Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Frosted will return three weeks after his third-place finish in the Travers Stakes when he starts on Saturday in the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.

Frosted and Upstart will compete in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday just three weeks after racing in the Travers, a demanding 1 1/4-mile race if there ever was one.

The quick turnaround cost Sam Elliott, the director of racing at Parx, the horse he had been courting for three months, American Pharoah. Although owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert would have each received at least a $200,000 participation bonus on top of any purse money earned, another cross-country commute just was not in the cards after his second-place finish to Keen Ice.

The connections of Frosted and Upstart wish they had more time between races – the difference is usually four weeks, but a late Labor Day tightened things up this year – but both camps are happy with how their horse has progressed since the Travers.

Kiaran McLaughlin said Frosted, whom he trains for Godolphin, “came out of the Travers great; that’s the nice thing about it.” To McLaughlin, the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby is an attractive target for several reasons.

“It’s not the norm for our stable to come back in three weeks, but I’ve talked it over with Godolphin,” he said. “The chain is Jimmy Bell to John Ferguson to Sheikh Mohammed, and we all agree it’s a great spot. It’s two turns, it’s against straight 3-year-olds, and it’s a mile and an eighth. The other option is the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but it’s against older, at 1 1/4 miles, and it starts on the turn.”

Following the Pennsylvania Derby, McLaughlin and Godolphin will decide what is next for Frosted, who won the Wood Memorial in April and has since finished second in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy and third in the Travers. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is an option, but so is the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March.

“We’ll have to determine whether it is possible to go to the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai or to the Breeders’ Cup or Dubai,” McLaughlin said. “So, we’ll have to take it one race at a time for now and figure out if we can do both.”

Upstart signaled he was ready for the Pennsylvania Derby in a workout at Aqueduct last Saturday. Trainer Rick Violette timed him going four furlongs in 47.80 seconds and galloping out five furlongs in “a minute and high change, or 1:01.” After the work, Violette said, “He went awfully easy,” and then took Upstart for a roll in his barn’s sand pen, which the colt seemed to enjoy.

The Pennsylvania Derby likely will be the final race of the year for Upstart, according to Ralph Evans, who co-owns the son of Flatter with WinStar Farm. Upstart won the Grade 2 Holy Bull in January and then was disqualified to second in the Fountain of Youth after crossing the wire 2 3/4 lengths in front. He was fourth in the Travers following a third-place finish in the Haskell Invitational.

“I’m kind of excited about the race, not about coming back on three weeks, but about the race itself,” Evans said. “He had a good period of time after the Derby. We didn’t go to the Preakness or Belmont, but now he’s had two pretty tough races. The plan is to put him away for the rest of the year and hopefully have a good 4-year-old.”

Evans, a resident of Greenwich, Conn., is retired after spending his career “on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.” He purchased Upstart for $130,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale of 2013. In April, he sold a minority interest to WinStar.

“I kind of liked his pedigree,” Evans said. “I pick out pedigrees I lean to and think I can afford. Then I take them to Rick, and he usually nixes them and picks out horses by conformation. On this one, we agreed.”

From 10 races, Upstart has earned more than $1.2 million.