Upstart Readies for Final Florida Derby Breeze

December 10, 2019

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) winner and Besilu Stables Florida Derby contender Upstart will have his final pre-race breeze for Gulfstream’s signature event this weekend, according to trainer Rick Violette, Jr.

“I’m leaning towards Saturday, but he had a two-minute lick yesterday, a real big mile, so I might wait until Sunday,” said Violette at his winter base at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility Palm Meadows.

While Violette was not in town to see that move, as he was attending the OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale in Ocala, he said he definitely heard about it.

“It was awesome, from all reports,” Violette said. “I was in Ocala, but I got calls about it, and of course (assistant) Melissa [Cohen] loved it, and the rider Vicki King loved it. I got a couple of calls from the clockers, too, saying he looked awesome. He ate up, and he’s bright-eyed today, so we’re in a very, very good spot.”

A 3-year-old son of Flatter, Upstart, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as a 2-year-old, captured Gulfstream’s Holy Bull in impressive fashion on Jan. 24, running off to a 5 ½-length victory. He returned four weeks later to cross the wire 2 ¾ lengths in front in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2), but he was taken down by the stewards and placed second behind Itsaknockout for impeding that rival in the stretch. The New York-bred has recorded two works since that race, most recently breezing 6 furlongs in 1:13.40 on March 13.

Should all things go according to plan, Violette said he plans to keep Upstart at Palm Meadows beyond the Florida Derby, as the ridgling trains up to the Triple Crown.

“April’s a really nice month down here,” Violette said. “It’s warm, but it usually doesn’t get too hot. There’s something to be said about nice, consistent weather. The training doesn’t get interrupted because of the racetrack and things like that.”

Violette agreed that it’s beneficial to be able to keep things the same for his trainee, who has flourished in South Florida this winter.

“There’s no question,” Violette said. “They’ve got the little [paddocks] where we can kick him out and he can have a roll or two. The nice weather opens doors for him to do some of these things. We’d be perfectly comfortable going to New York, but if we don’t have to, we won’t.”

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