Options Abound for Lambholm South Holy Bull Winner Upstart
Jan 26th, 2015
by Blood-Horse Staff
A day after Upstart became a prime contender on the Triple Crown trail with an impressive win in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 24, trainer Rick Violette Jr. discussed his options.
Violette said Upstart's road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 2 will run either through South Florida or New York.
"We'll play it by ear," Violette said Jan. 25 from his barn at Palm Meadows training center. "We could do the Fountain of Youth (gr. II). If we need a couple more weeks, we could wait for the Gotham (gr. III). We have a two-week cushion and at some point we'll get to use it."
The Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth is at Gulfstream Feb. 21, while the Gotham is at Aqueduct Racetrack March 7.
"Whether we go the whole route here (in Florida) and go Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby (gr. I) to give us a little extra time to get to the Kentucky Derby, or if we need (the cushion) before then and he stubs his toe or doesn't eat, we can back off and do either the Gotham or the Wood Memorial (gr. I). We have some flexibility, which is really nice."
Gulfstream's Besilu Stables Florida Derby is March 28, with Aqueduct's TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial slated April 4.
"He's doing great," Violette said as the colt grazed contentedly across from his stall at Violette's Palm Meadows barn, looking up from the grass with his eyes bright to inquire for a mint in his handler's coat pockets.
The request by the son of Flatter was met, of course, and deservingly so, after he smoked a field of talented sophomores to take the Holy Bull in his 3-year-old debut. Upstart drew off with the race by 5 1/2 lengths under Jose Ortiz.
Violette said he expected his Upstart to run a good race, but he did not necessarily expect to win in that fashion.
"Dominating, no, but we were pretty confident that he was going to run well," Violette said. "You just hope that the talent he showed as a 2-year-old transfers into a good 3-year-old, and a lot of horses don't. They're a little more precocious, a little more mature as a 2-year-old, and sometimes that's their best stuff. You hope to see the graduation, and I think we saw it."
Violette added that Upstart, who finished third in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) in his final start at 2, did a lot of things in the Holy Bull that impressed him, especially when breaking from post 8 in a field of nine.
"(He had) enough speed to get good positioning from a post position that didn't make that automatic," he said. "He settled well, when he was called on, he answered, and he kind of took care of business. They need to leave horses at some point, and he kind of did that yesterday. All of that—he traveled well down there, he was good in the paddock—he did a lot of good things yesterday."
Violette also credited Ortiz for a skillful ride.
"Jose ran a terrific race, because the pace was not fast," he said. "If we had been farther back, we still could have maybe gotten the job done, but it would've been more difficult. The one horse (pacesetter and third-place finisher Bluegrass Singer) would have been loose on the lead at that point going a half in almost :49, and he could have been very tough if he'd been left alone."
Owned by Ralph M. Evans, Upstart has three wins, a second, and a third in five starts with earnings of $701,880. Bred in New York by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen, the dark bay is out of the Touch Gold mare Party Silks.