01/24/2015 5:48PM

Upstart dominates Holy Bull Stakes to kick off 3-year-old campaign

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Barbara D. Livingston
Upstart wins the Holy Bull Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Earlier this month, trainer Rick Violette said everything would have to go perfectly for Upstart to make it into the starting gate for Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. And perfect might be the best way to describe Upstart’s performance after he drew off to a convincing 5 1/2-length victory over the 3-2 Frosted and seven other overmatched rivals in the Grade 2 Holy Bull.

Violette opted to launch Upstart’s 3-year-old campaign in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull after his colt put in what he described as a “scary good” work last Sunday at Palm Meadows. The outing was the first for the New York-bred son of Flatter since his third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

With regular rider Jose Ortiz aboard, Upstart was hung three wide around the opening bend but settled into a nice stalking position behind the pace-setting Bluegrass Singer, who set modest fractions of 24.52 seconds and 48.82 for the opening half-mile. Upstart was sent up to engage the leader midway around the second turn, shook free upon settling into the stretch, then steadily increased his advantage to the wire.

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

Frosted, who had not started since his second-place finish in the Remsen, also was kept within easy striking distance of the leaders while reserved for six furlongs but proved no match for the winner when set down while taking a bit of an erratic path through mid-stretch. Bluegrass Singer finished another 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Upstart, who is owned by Ralph Evans, completed the distance in 1:43.61 over a fast track and returned $6.20 for his third victory in five career starts. By winning the Holy Bull, Upstart also received 10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

“The post position was a tough one, and they were kind of walking early, so we might have been a little closer than usual,” said Violette. “You needed to be a little more aggressive leaving there to try to get some position and Jose did the right thing.”

Violette said by running in the Holy Bull, it gives him extra options looking down the road on the Kentucky Derby trail. Violette has said he’d like to get three races into Upstart before the Derby.

“One of the advantages of running today is that it gave us a cushion. It gives us two extra weeks to play with if we did come off the bench a little too strong,” said Violette, who mentioned the Fountain of Youth here Feb. 21 and the Gotham at Aqueduct on March 7 as two of his possible options for Upstart’s next start.

Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Upstart is the finest looking 3 YO I have seen stand in any winners circle in a long time..... Looks the part for sure............
Nick Frazzetto More than 1 year ago
this was just an easy workout for Upstart, much the best with no serious competition. Hopefully we get some better horses for the Fountain of Youth.
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
actually besides the breeders cup, this was by far the best field for ky derby prep, this was very impressive win
Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
Agree. And major congrats to those who plunged on him at 53-1 in Pool One. Vince P
tommy More than 1 year ago
80-1 long shot 4th, why pay little superfecta!!!!
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
your delusional--80/1 was the win odds on a horse that couldn't win--when two big name, marquee names run 1-2--what the hell did you expect? Win odds are irrelevant to verticals--what don't you understand?
Old timer More than 1 year ago
not only that, but the top three horses ran 1-2-3!
tommy More than 1 year ago
Superfecta should have paid $500 for $1
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
sorry, but the 1st 3 finishers in this race were very predictable, so likely most people played all on the 4th spot…. need a longshot in the top two
tommy More than 1 year ago
You are wrong!!! The favor came 2nd and 1st and 2nd were 3rd choice. Next time let's see you have a ticket in exacta where 5-2 favors wins and 2nd comes 80-1 long shot and exacta pay out $30 for $2
tommy More than 1 year ago
What did I say!!!! What did I say!!!! Upstart and frosted exacta box with blue grass singer solid third!!. I was made that 4th was 80-1 and the superfecta paid so little!!! They didn't want to pay me, that's why!!!!
Scott More than 1 year ago
This was a very nice looking win, but it got me wondering when the last time the Derby Winner won the Holy Bull Stakes. (2006: Barbaro), but you have to roll all the way back to Go For Gin in 1994 for another one. For whatever reason the winner of this race doesn't seem to translate to Derby success. I'm not faulting the performance by any means though and I do think that a horse who is willing to rate like Upstart did and then accelerate away from the odds on favorite is worth watching. Add a decent pedigree and it's definitely worth paying attention to him. Congrats to him and his connections.
tommy More than 1 year ago
I will bet upstart in kentucky derby exacta!!!!! Now I already got a list of horses I will use!!! I can tell you which horses will qualify before they even qualify!!!!!