01/25/2015 1:16PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Holy Bull Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Upstart earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Holy Bull.

$400,000 Holy Bull Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Gulfstream Park, Jan. 24, 2015

 (10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

 Winner: Upstart

 Trainer: Rick Violette

 Jockey: Jose Ortiz

 Owner: Ralph Evans

 Beyer Speed Figure: 105

 UPSTART was one of the elite 2-year-olds of 2014, and he served notice in his 2015 debut that he belongs among the very best of contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

 Because of the configuration of Gulfstream Park, the Holy Bull has a fairly short run to the first turn, and an abbreviated stretch run. By drawing post 8 of the nine runners, Upstart was in danger of being caught wide, and though he ended up three paths wide on the first turn, he was in the clear, and stalking the leaders, a comfortable position from which to perform.

 The key point in the race was the third quarter-mile, which was run in a sharp 23.67 seconds. That is where Upstart and pacesetter BLUEGRASS SINGER left their rivals, and then once turning into the stretch, Upstart left Bluegrass Singer and went on to a runaway victory while earning the fastest Beyer Speed Figure of his career.

 Upstart checks all the boxes you would want in a top Derby prospect. He is bred to handle distance, being by Flatter -- a son of A.P. Indy -- out of a Touch Gold mare, so you have Belmont Stakes winners as grandparents on both sides of that pedigree. He has enough speed to gain position early, yet can still go on with it. He has never run a bad race, now owning three wins, a second, and a third in five starts. And he is a grand-looking animal.

 Further, when I saw Upstart during the mornings at Santa Anita the week of the Breeders’ Cup, he seemed the sort to get a bit nervous, but I saw no signs of that in the paddock or post parade for the Holy Bull. He just seems to be getting better and better.

His race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from a bad post was his first try around two turns, and he turned in an encouraging performance that day. In the Holy Bull, he picked up right where he left off.

 FROSTED, who finished second, was able to save ground much of the way owing to his advantageous rail draw, a contrast to the situation he encountered in the Remsen, when an outside post severely compromised his chances. He was no match for the winner, but still got the best figure of his career, so he moved forward from his 2-year-old form, which is what you want to see at this time of year.

 The only quibble I would have with Frosted’s performance is that there were moments during the race, most notably turning into the stretch, when he was carrying his head high as though the spray of dirt was bothering him. If he’s going to excel in Derby preps – let alone a 20-horse Derby field – he will have to improve in that department.

 Bluegrass Singer, who finished third, set the pace while inside both First Down and Upstart, was able to stay with Upstart through that torrid third quarter-mile, and then tired from those efforts in the stretch run. If properly managed by choosing to avoid the very best of this division, he could do very, very well.

 JUAN AND BINA, who finished fourth, was extremely rank and uncomfortable going into and around the first turn while between and behind horses, but once he got outside he settled down and did as well as he could against this bunch. He tried to close on the leaders during that quick third quarter-mile while racing three paths wide. All things considered, this wasn’t a bad race at all. As with Bluegrass Singer, there will be plenty of lucrative spots for him to go after if shrewdly managed.

 Besides the top two finishers, the one I’m most interested to follow in upcoming races is KEEN ICE, who finished fifth. He broke a bit slowly, and then was curiously sent aggressively up the inside down the backstretch by jockey Edgard Zayas. After falling back when the leaders quickened entering the far turn, he rallied anew and galloped out very well. He also was late with his lead change, which happened in the Remsen, too. While Keen Ice was not a factor in this race, and was well beaten in the Breeders’ Futurity (fifth) and Remsen (third), the way he ran in this race convinces me that he would be far better suited to having his rider simply sit on him early and make one sustained run. Obviously a faster pace would suit that style. He’s by Curlin and out of an Awesome Again mare, so he has every right to improve as he gets older with Breeders’ Cup Classic winners that high up in his pedigree.

 FRAMMENTO, who finished sixth, had to check going into the first turn to avoid Juan and Bina, was caught three paths wide on that turn, but never made any impact.

 FIRST DOWN was between Bluegrass Singer and Upstart for the first five furlongs, could not keep pace when those rivals quickened during the third quarter-mile of the race, and faded to finish seventh.

 DECISION DAY, who was eighth, was caught four paths wide the whole way after starting from his outside post and stopped badly after five furlongs. This was his first start on dirt after three races on synthetic, so synthetic or turf would appear to be his future.

 HIGH NOON RIDER was never involved and was eased in upper stretch, but was reported by the Equibase chart caller to have walked off the course



Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
This horse first caught my eye when he was working 2f at the sale .i loved his stride .thought he would go for about 50k with his breeding. But he went for 130k on his looks and that 2f work. For me he was the pick of the sale and have followed him since. The holy bull was a beauty. He looks better than ever. Hope he stays healthy and makes the derby.
tommy More than 1 year ago
My boy upstart did good!!! I will bet him in kentucky derby exacta but he still has a long way to improve!!! Frosted did well but I was surprised he lost by so mAny lengths!! I probably won't bet frosted in exacta at kentucky derby because he will finish 4th or last! I always think firing line, Dortmund, leave the light on, carpe diem, calculator are major contenders in kentucky derby based on my calculations , not Beyer speed ratings!
slewfan More than 1 year ago
Upstart looks awesome.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Looked like he can throw those 23's at you all day...
Scott More than 1 year ago
You certainly can't fault his performance. The only thing I wonder about is if he's peaking way too early. For whatever reason, the Holy Bull has rarely produced a Derby winner (2006: Barbaro and 1994: Go For Gin are the only ones I can find). However, if Upstart continues to improve and stay healthy, then you really have to love his chances. Watching this race, he actually reminded me of California Chrome in the Derby itself. He seemed capable of overhauling the leaders whenever the jockey asked and yet showed the maturity to actually wait. With a turn of foot to put you in a good tactical position, a pedigree with endurance and an ability to rate this guy is certainly one to watch.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Scott he can't peak too early because he has no time to have much improvement!! The kentucky derby will start soon buddy!!! The body has slow adaptations to aerobic training which means it takes 6 months to a year to see huge improvements in training!! Right now last year California chrome was running 1 1/16 on dirt @ 1:40 and in the kentucky derby he was the only fit horse!!! Everyone else was playing catch up in last years derby. Firing line and Dortmund already ran 1 1/16 @ 1:40 and leave the light on already won an amazing race at 1 1/8 on dirt so it's like peak now or never for derby!
tommy More than 1 year ago
I mean $270 lol for super
tommy More than 1 year ago
I always get screwed as a horse player!!! Either I lose a fixed race or they don't pay me enough!! I hit the superfecta for a dollar and it paid $370. The 4th horse was 80-1 which the super should have paid at least $500. I'm happy at least to finally see an honest race. With the calculations I did I said the exacta is frosted and upstart box, with blue grass singer clearly 3rd and 4 th was up for grabs so u bet everyone for 4th!!
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Poor "tommy," always getting "screwed." Since the races are so obviously fixed, please give up playing the ponies, or at least quit posting here. Your whining and moaning are quite tiresome, not to mention poorly-informed.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Yea that's true but gulfstream made it up to me by fixing one race where I did not need for read the form!! I boxed Mott horses for $3 because everyone said the other horses will be pulled in last race and paid a decent amount!! And still I'm mad because that Last race should have been a dead heat!! 4 and 5, good look at it! Maybe one day I can be satisfied Amy!! My boy upstart did good in holy bull!!!!
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
We got it already with your two anon comments below
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Anonymous below has much better grammar.Two different conspiracy theorists.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Ok we will have the 5-2 favor win and then 80-1 longshot come second and pay you $30 for a $2 exacta!!!! Let's see how you like it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh brother. Now begins the hype for all these horses to the derby. Every week will be more fixed races and thievery. All the while acting like its a true legit betting game. Smh
edison pierce More than 1 year ago
Get a life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what happened to DRF+. Now, the horse players need reasonable PPs. I do not want them for free, willing to pay $2.00.