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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Upstart Seeks Repeat in Fountain of Youth

2/16/2015

Upstart, dominant 5 1/2-length winner of the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes, will try to add the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes to his resume.

Should Upstart (photo by Lauren King) run back to his Holy Bull performance, he'll be tough to beat. Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of the Holy Bull runner-up, sees a scenario that might work, including the addition of blinkers to Frosted.

“I think the winner was most impressive that day, and hopefully he doesn’t run as impressive this time and he drops back to us a length or two and we gain a length or two with the blinkers and a better post position,” McLaughlin said. “We think we have a good chance. We have a lot of respect for Upstart, but we just hope he doesn’t run such a monster race again.”

Upstart's trainer Rick Violette conceded that a bounce is possible but said he has confidence.

“Even if he regresses, we hope he can still win,” said Violette, whose trainee drew post 7, just outside of Frosted. Those two drew posts 8 and 1, respectively, in the Holy Bull.

Upstart hasn't shown much quit in his career, which includes back-to-back win against New York-breds at Saratoga. He made a huge leap to grade 1 company and finished second to Daredevil in the Champagne Stakes. He was a troubled third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in the Holy Bull, the top number by a 3-year-old s far in 2015.

“This isn’t your father’s New York-bred, so to speak,” Violette said. “The bar has been raised. There was a terrific cast of New York-breds last year all across the country. There was an Eclipse Award winner, Dayatthespa. Chester and Mary Broman’s sprinter (Artemis Agrotera) was a grade 1 winner. There is certainly no longer an asterisk or a stigma as to where they were bred.”

Jose Ortiz has been aboard for all five races and has the return mount on Upstart.

In the face of Upstart's consistency, McLaughlin has his own perspective about Frosted.

“He’s improving all the time. We were second best in the Holy Bull and hopefully we’re not second best in the Fountain of Youth,” McLaughlin said. “Our horse is a big, strong horse and every race he seems to be getting better and better. He can handle the racing well, so we’re excited to bring him back over there.”

Frosted broke his maiden in his third lifetime start and finished a close second in the Remsen Stakes after breaking from post 13 and racing wide., in which he broke from the No. 13 post and raced wide around a track that was speed-favoring. Leave the Light On, the Remsen winner, is sidelined.

Mucho Macho Man winner Bluegrass Singer led in the Holy Bull before weakening to finish third. It was his first attempt around two turns. Trainer Marcus Vitali said there was more than met the eye in the Holy Bull

“He kind of sprung a shoe, and I think that definitely had something to do with it,” Vitali said. “I’m not big on making up excuses. It is what it is. It’s horse racing. It unfolded the way it did, but I was still ecstatic the way he ran first time going a mile and a sixteenth. We’re just gearing up.”

“He really likes the track, and that played into it. I talked to Mrs. Vogel and decided that this is the direction we’re going to take. We’ve got Paco (Lopez), and Paco definitely should fit him. They should be a match,” Vitali said.

Itsaknockout will make his stakes and two-turn debuts in the Fountain of Youth. The Todd Pletcher trainee is undefeated in two career starts at the track.. A son of Lemon Drop Kid, Itsaknockout won his debut by a nose at seven furlongs on Dec. 7 before capturing a first-level optional claiming allowance on Jan. 4 by more than five lengths.

“I feel very good about him. His first two races have been very impressive. He’s been a real pleasure to train, and a very straightforward, professional horse that comes out and enjoys his work every day,” Pletcher said. “So far he’s been impressive in his two starts, so this will be a big test of class. He’s running against more seasoned horses. Upstart I thought was very impressive, but this is the next logical step, and he seemed to have handled everything that we’ve thrown at him so far.”

Luis Saez has the return mount aboard Itsaknockout.

Gorgeous Bird is another promising colt making his stakes debut Saturday. He drew off to win by seven lengths in a Gulfstream optional claiming allowance at a mile on Jan. 24. The Ian Wilkes-trained son of Unbridled’s Song previously broke his maiden in his second lifetime start at Churchill Downs in November.

Joel Rosario will be reunited with Gorgeous Bird Saturday.

Juan and Bina, fourth in the Holy Bull; Frammento, sixth in the Holy Bull; and Danny Boy, beaten three lengths while running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf  last time out, round out the field.


By Dick Downey with content by Gulfstream Park
@DowneyProfile

 

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