Plenty of Options for Upstart After Impressive Holy Bull Victory

by | 01.25.2015 | 1:06pm
Upstart before his Holy Bull romp
Upstart before his Holy Bull romp

A day after winning the $400,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) in tremendous fashion, Upstart, now a prime contender on the Triple Crown Trail, could be found contentedly grazing across from his stall at trainer Rick Violette Jr.'s barn at Palm Meadows.

“He's doing great,” Violette said as the colt looked up from the grass, eyes bright, to inquire for a mint in his handler's coat pockets.

The son of Flatter's request 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, running off with the race by 5 ½ lengths under Jose Ortiz and earning a 105 Beyer. Violette said he expected his trainee to run a good race, but he did not necessarily expect him to draw off 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 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in his final start at two, did a lot of things in the Holy Bull that impressed him, especially when breaking from the eight-post 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 (Bluegrass Singer) would have been loose on the lead at that point going a half in almost 49 (seconds), and he could have been very tough if he'd been left alone.”

Now that Upstart has 16 points toward a potential berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Violette is left with many options for the colt's next start. His road to the Run for the Roses will run either through South Florida or New York.

“We'll play it by ear,” Violette said. “We could do the Fountain of Youth (G2, at Gulfstream on Feb. 21). If we need a couple more weeks, we could wait for the Gotham (G3, at Aqueduct on March 7). We have a two-week cushion and at some point we'll get to use it. Whether we go the whole route here (at Gulfstream) and go Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby (G1, on March 28) to give us a little extra time to get to the Kentucky Derby or if we need it before then and he stubs his toe or doesn't eat, we can back off and do either the Gotham or the Wood Memorial (G1, at Aqueduct on April 4). We have some flexibility, which is really nice.”

  • Tinky

    This colt has a very interesting pedigree with regards to the Derby. Some (if not many) would look at it and point out that both the sires of his sire and dam were Belmont winners, and therefore infer that 10 furlongs should be well within his range. But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, the odds are against him being as good at 10 furlongs as he will be from a mile to nine furlongs.

    His sire, Flatter, is essentially a sire of milers, unlike his sire, A. P. Indy, which typically transmitted more stamina. Similarly, Touch Gold, the sire of Upstart’s dam, is not a reliable source of stamina. Then you find (Champion sprinter) Housebuster as the sire of his second dam, and Drone (the broodmare sire of the brilliant Dancing Brave, but he was an exception) the third.

    So while Upstart has two Belmont winners relatively close up in his pedigree (a rather uncommon occurrence), he will have to prove the exception in order to show his best beyond nine furlongs.

    Hopefully Frank Mitchell will dig into the female line and provide further, potentially useful parsing.

    • Leilani1234

      His dam has siblings who ran well at longer distances. Including one sister by Two Punch that proved better at two turns considering her “sprint” type pedigree. Also the dam’s brother Beyond Empire is a grinder going longer. I have a feeling this guy will get better with age as well. His female family has been better with age. I’ve followed his second dam’s family for quite a while now. Happy to see her grandson doing well.

      • Tinky

        “longer distances”? You’re missing the point. Effectiveness at around a mile is not the same as 10 furlongs.

        • Leilani1234

          A mile? Beyond Empire runs 9f and has won at that. Winning Punch went much longer than her sprinter pedigree suggested and won at it. Both are related to Upstart’s dam. Nobody is missing the point. He’s bred to go long. You’re suggesting he may not have it in him based on his dam’s side. He has already won beyond a mile. Your point is?

          • Tinky

            You have presented zero evidence that his bottom-line is anything but that of a miler. Milers often succeed up to around nine furlongs, but rarely at 10f.

            The fact that a Two Punch from the family stayed a mile in no way suggests that the bottom-line is stout. Two Punch, whose broodmare sire, Grey Dawn, was a truly stout influence, got both sprinters and milers, so Winning Punch was not some odd anomaly, nor did she have a “sprinters” pedigree.

            Beyond Empire is by Empire Maker, rendering him useless as an example.

  • Tinky

    You really are clueless. Dosage has been well-exposed by me, and others, as being a woefully inaccurate predictor of stamina.

    Beyond Empire is not a meaningful example because Empire Maker imparts more stamina than Flatter. Saying that the latter has “long distance relations” underscores that you don’t understand how to read pedigrees. When a sire is established, as Flatter is, the record of his produce completely trumps any “relations” in his pedigree. He is a sire of milers, and, as I have pointed out, nothing like the stamina influence that his sire was.

    Finally, I never asserted that Upstart couldn’t stay 10f. I pointed out that the odds were against it, and presented plenty of evidence, whether you understand it or not.

    • Leilani1234

      Yeah I’m sure you were one of those that stated California Chrome had no pedigree to get 10f as well. Did you “expose” that too?
      And as EVERYONE knows certain genetics often skip a generation. If you are such the expert I should be seeing your name as breeder on a Derby starter every year. Nothing like having an expert try to explain his point of view as being superior and more informed. Upstart has already out performed his female family. Note they were not a precocious bunch and have performed better with age. He shined at 2! Are you going to argue about that now too? As I said before, get over it. Your opinion is just an opinion. As is mine. You don’t have to like it. Period.

      • Tinky

        Every fundamental aspect of Thoroughbred racing and breeding is based on percentages, and there will always be anomalies.

        Upstart may prove to be an anomaly, but he is clearly not bred to stay 10 furlongs. That is a fact, not an opinion. If you can’t see why that is the case, then you don’t know how to read pedigrees.

        • Leilani1234

          Yes just as he’s CLEARLY not bred to win at 2 right? Because I can’t read pedigrees according to you. You’re expertise on who can do what is astounding.
          Tell me Mr. Expert, what stallion standing in the U.S. has an average winner of over 8.5f in the U.S. these days based on statistics? If every horse ran to your statiscal information we wouldn’t have horses running in the classics anymore now would we?

          • Tinky

            Not bred to win at two? On what basis do you make that claim?

            While Flatter doesn’t typically get precocious types, he certainly isn’t on the opposite end of the spectrum (like his sire). In fact, 41% of his foals start at two, and nearly 38% of those win. So, once again, you haven’t a clue, as it was no surprise to see Upstart win at two.

            The average winning distance of Flatter’s offspring is less than seven furlongs, underscoring the absurdity of your fantasy that Upstart is somehow bred to stay 10 furlongs.

            Empire Maker, to further hammer home my above point, get’s runners whose average winning distance is a full furlong longer than those sired by Flatter.

            Facts sure are pesky.

          • Leilani1234

            38% winners of 41% starters at 2 sure is huge isn’t it? That’s not a precocious pedigree. Neither Flatter nor Upstarts dam won at 2. Nor did any of his Dam’s siblings. And his 2nd dam as well did not win until later. Because Empire Maker has an average win distance longer for progeny than that of Flatter is moot because Upstart’s dam is by a sire who won longer than Intend to Win’s sire. He won the Belmont Stakes.
            Lucky Pulpit has an average progeny win distance of just a bit over 6f. Go tell California Chrome he’s not bred to win at 10f please. His breeders knew something you obviously don’t like to admit. That you CAN find stamina in generations further back than just the obvious (to you).
            I said name one stallion standing presently in the U.S. with an average of 8.5. Your facts are percentages and statistics which mean nothing because you’re not facing the reality that in genetics some traits can and do skip a generation.
            Not every horse runs to your percentages and statistics and there’s always the percentage that people like you want to dismiss. But you’re the so called expert. Done discussing anymore with expert know it alls. The Debbie Downers of the world.

          • Leilani1234

            And your stats on Flatter and 2 year old winners is way off! Winners at 2 is 16%.

          • Tinky

            Again, you really don’t have any idea what you are talking about, and even when I explain things clearly, you remain lost.

            1) Reading comprehension is important. I said that 38% of his 2yo starters win, which is correct. The figure you cited is winners to total foals. Apples and oranges, though my point can be made with either set of statistics.

            2) “Because Empire Maker has an average win distance longer for progeny than that of Flatter is moot because Upstart’s dam is by a sire who won longer than Intend to Win’s sire. He won the Belmont Stakes.”

            The sire is never “moot”, and for painfully obvious reasons. Any time that one seeks to interpret how much stamina a mare may be imparting to her offspring, the sires must be taken into account for context.

            3) You are repeating exactly the same mistake that I pointed out in my very first post, a mistake that many who don’t know how to read pedigrees make. The fact that Touch Gold won the Belmont is utterly irrelevant. He has proven to be a sire of sprinters and milers, and nothing like a stamina influence. This is basic stuff, and it is remarkable that I should have to explain it multiple times for someone to get it.

            4) The fact that you believe that California Chrome’s breeders knew something special underscores just how little you understand about breeding. They hit the lottery. CC was a rare anomaly in terms of class, and was also anomalous in terms of his ability to stay 10 furlongs.

            5) Confusing fact with opinion will always be a problem for you, apparently.

          • Leilani1234

            No you are clueless. Flatter has a 16% win percentage for 2 year olds. Making him not a precocious sire. That is what I said.
            You’re obviously trying to make statements regarding a pedigree based on what you believe to be gospel. Flat Out had no problem getting 1 1/4 so stop with your expertise. Funny how other pedigree analysts are throwing out other facts regarding his pedigree. I honestly don’t care what you believe to be true. You are not an expert. That’s for sure. The fact that you have to keep responding is a joke. Grow up.

          • Tinky

            I’m sorry to say that you are either blind, or moronic. Flatter gets 37% 2yo winners to starters. He gets 16% winners to foals of racing age. If you’d care make a substantial wager on who is correct about this, I’d be happy to take your money.

            Now, even if you are eventually able to understand your repeated mistake, it doesn’t matter which statistic is used, as no one ever claimed that he was a sire of precious runners.

            The correct point that I was making is that Flatter is “in-between”, in other words, he is neither a sire of precocious stock, nor a sire of late-developers that rarely win at two (as was his sire). For context, something that you fail to use, Emprire Maker only gets 8% 2yo winners to foals of racing age, and just 24% 2yo winners to starters. Clearly, he is a good example of the type of sire that you mistakenly believe Flatter to be.

            But off all of your examples of ignorance, the most remarkable is how you still fail to understand that racetrack performance is only meaningful until a sire has gotten a few crops of runners. Then, the performance of his offspring becomes vastly more important, and Flatter has proven to be a sire of sprinters and milers, not 10f.+ horses.

          • Leilani1234

            The only ignorant person is you who can’t read statistics that are clearly online for all to see.
            Considering you are harping on Upstarts Dam’s family it was unusual for him to be precocious based on his female pedigree, not his male and that is what I stated. Get a life.
            I will no longer respond nor read anymore of your comments. Deleting any emails regarding this post from you. Have a good day Napoleon complex man!

          • Tinky

            For the benefit of those who actually can read, this was copied from the equine line stats that are linked to Flatter’s Blood-Horse Stallion
            Register page:

            Lifetime Lifetime
            2-Year-Olds

            Foals of Racing Age 655 655
            Starters(/foals of RA) 420 (64%) 270 (41%)
            Winners (/foals of RA) 314 (48%) 102 (16%)

            Pretty straightforward, really, and I have no idea why “Robin” has had such trouble understand the stats.

          • Leilani1234

            Why don’t you copy and paste entire stats which you are misquoting there? Hope to see you at Gulfstream in person. Or somewhere this year. Sorry you can only hide behind Tinky. Coward behind a keyboard. Typical.

          • Tinky

            Misquoting?? LOL! That’s a good one. Please do reveal the “true” stats.

          • Leilani1234

            By the way if you find yourself so much more enlightened than everyone else let’s meet in person so you can tell me to my face how ignorant I am. I’ll be at Gulfstream for the Donn Handicap. I’d love to see you in person instead of you hiding behind a keyboard. I’ll be at Ten Palms all day. You won’t miss me. Ask the maître’d where Robin is sitting.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram