Talented from Day One, Holy Bull Winner Is No Upstart
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 25, 2015—It was a state-bred maiden race at Saratoga; didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary on paper. But when the betting opened it became apparent that a dark bay named Upstart might be OK.
Ante post, he was the 3-2 choice over six rivals and he made that quote look generous, indeed. All he wanted to do was run, run, run, but Jose Ortiz didn’t want him to move yet.
On the turn, the $130,000 Saratoga yearling still wanted to go—“traffic, hard held,” the chart footnote reads--but with the straight in sight, Ortiz let out a notch of rein and Upstart did the rest.
It was an impressive enough score, which is nothing unusual for Saratoga, but what happened after Upstart reached the wire 5-1/4 lengths in front of Tizquick was.
The ridgling galloped out, slowed to a canter, then to a walk on the backstretch. But instead of turning around and galloping back toward the winners’ circle, Ortiz walked him slowly over to the inside portion of the track, stopped, and gave him a feel for the rail.
I only remember seeing this maneuver before steeplechase events; the riders giving their mounts a “feel for the hedge/fence,” some familiarity with the obstacle the horse will be asked to traverse.
What jumped to mind in this case is that the outfit must really like this youngster. Finally, Ortiz galloped him back slowly but trainer Rick Violette couldn’t wait, running out to the middle of Saratoga Race Course to greet horse and rider. High fives ensued.
Kentucky Derby Prep Season: Game On
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 21, 2015—Are you ready for some prep ball?
Finally, things are beginning to heat up as the Road to Kentucky Derby takes its first serious step Saturday when Gulfstream Park renews the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at 1-1/16 miles.
But before taking a look ahead, there already has been some interesting action in racing’s glamour division and a few recent participants might turn out to be players in Louisville.
Whether they’re elite players or not will shake out in the days and weeks ahead. Thus far, it’s been a promising start.
Two weeks ago Calculator earned an impressive maiden score at the expense of some classy runners in Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes, ridden and performing as though he were much the best.
Ground loss didn’t matter, early button-pushing didn’t matter but what mattered was the impressive way he drew off that belied a lineage that’s admittedly a bit short on the maternal side of his pedigree.
Of course, he will be given ample opportunity to outrun his ancestry in the future; the 1-1/16 miles of the San Felipe seems the logical place to find out more about Peter Miller’s trainee.