Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) winner and Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Upstart recorded the bullet move of the morning, clocking in at 59.95 seconds for five-furlongs. With exercise rider Vicki King aboard, the son of Flatter galloped about a quarter-way around the track before pulling up and breaking off to breeze at the half-mile pole. The bay recorded his first split in 12 4/8 seconds before being asked to pick up the pace slightly, and the ridgling immediately responded, improving his second split by almost a full second. He powered through the lane for the second-half of the work under a virtually motionless King and appeared difficult to pull up after a strong gallop out.
“He felt great,” King said. “He felt really good. He’s done everything right. He went the right time – everything, the fractions were perfect.”
“He’s push-button. He’s really a nice ride,” she added. “If he messes up, it’s the rider’s fault, because he does anything you ask him to do!”
King said having difficultly pulling up is the norm when riding the eager bay, noting he has great endurance.
“He’s always like that – before and after the breeze,” she said. “He’s just wants to go around again. He’s happy to keep going.”
Trainer Rick Violette was similarly very pleased with Upstart’s work, noting the ease with which he carried his speed.
“It was kind of typical [for him], very professional,” he said. “He looks like he’s two-minute licking but he’s going in 12 [second-intervals]. He didn’t want to pull up. He did it easily, and it basically was a typical Upstart work, which is what we were looking for.”
Violette said he’s learned that his trainee excels when racing off fast works.
“All [Vicki King] has to do is move her hands a little bit and he accelerates,” he said. “He likes to work fast going into his races. His best races have come off fast workouts. When I toyed with that and toned it down a little bit, he didn’t run his A-race, which is kind of my program, but it was also something we’ve learned [about him] as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old. He wants to zip a little bit, and we try to keep our horses happy.”
Following the work, Upstart cooled out when walking Violette’s shed row before being led to the turnout ring and taking a routine roll on his back. Upon rising, the ridgling let out a playful buck, seemingly full of energy after the serious exercise. Violette said his trainee has thrived since missing a scheduled workout about two weeks ago due to a spiked fever.
“He looked like he just walked out of his stall,” Violette said. “It’s pretty cool. We’ve had one little bullet that we dodged, and it doesn’t seem to have had any after effect, that’s for sure. He’s had two good breezes and a two-minute lick, and now we’ll just let him feel like King Kong for a week and head him over there (to Louisville) and see what happens.”
Upstart will return to the track Sunday to gallop before traveling to Louisville on Tuesday.
“He’ll leave Tuesday. He’ll gallop a little bit tomorrow and Monday. Tuesday will be his walk day, and then we’ll recharge for a big day on Saturday,” Violette said. “He’ll just gallop [leading up to the Kentucky Derby]. He’ll school in the gate and school in the paddock and that’s it – just a couple one-on-one stuff.”
Wood Memorial (G1) winner Frosted, who finished second and fourth, respectively, in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2), breezed minutes earlier. Under exercise rider Rob Massey, the dappled gray breezed five furlongs in 1:01.10. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was timed in an almost identical 1:01.35 when he worked last Thursday.
“We had a great racetrack today,” McLaughlin said. “We wanted to see a maintenance work, and we’re all systems go. He worked great – went in 1:01 – and it was very similar to last week. We’re very happy with it.”
“We didn’t want to see any changes, and we’re just happy to keep seeing the same, seeing him work well and within himself,” he added. “He’s gone perfect.”
After training up to the Wood Memorial at Palm Meadows, McLaughlin elected to return the son of Tapit to South Florida to keep things status quo. Under a sunny sky on a warm, picture-perfect morning, McLaughlin said the weather also played a role in his decision.
“Going into the Wood [Memorial], he worked every week here and flew up there and won,” he said. “Weather was a big thing. It looked rainy in Kentucky, and it has been, and in New York, too. It just looked like it was the right move. He’s trained great here.”
Frosted will depart for Louisville on Tuesday and spend the rest of the week galloping up to a start in the Run for the Roses.
“On Tuesday he flies at noon. He’ll train here (at Palm Meadows) Tuesday morning, fly up, and train there (in Louisville) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and maybe Saturday, too. We’ll also go through the paddock, but not in the afternoon.”