Hot Springs, Ark. (Saturday, March 19, 2016) – The Grade 3 Razorback Handicap, which was also run on the Grade 2 $900,000 Rebel Stakes under card, Upstart made his eagerly-anticipated return to the races a successful one, coming from far off the pace to prevail by a length.
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 10 older horses, Ralph M. Evans and WinStar Farms Upstart showed no ring rust from being idle since a fifth place finish in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 19, and he handled highweight of 120 pounds while conceding from three to eight pounds to his rivals.
The 4-year-old son of Flatter, who is trained by Rick Violette and traveled the Triple Crown trail last year, came five-wide into the stretch and dug in all the way to the wire to prevail in 1:44:12, a length in front of 9-1 Domain’s Rap. Ido Porteno, the 2014 Argentine Horse of the Year who was making his initial North American start after not racing since mid-June, finished in third by another half-length.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said the New York-based Violette by phone. “He gave up ground on both turns but he was resolute up the lane. He ran right through. He’s back to where we hoped he would be and I’m thrilled.”
“I’m going to give full credit to the whole Rick Violette team for bringing this horse together. When you’re off that long, it’s tough to get a horse ready to run. He left there really nicely, relaxed really good the first turn. Probably a little farther back than Rick wanted. But, he was so comfortable and relaxed. I was really happy the way he was going. You saw the move he made around the turn. He’s back. He’s a pretty nice horse. He proved it to everybody. I’m just glad he’s a big, happy horse for the rest of the season,” said jockey Joe Bravo.
The Razorback served as the final prep for the Grade 2 $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap April 16 and Federico Villafranco, the trainer of Doman’s Rap who haltered him for $100,000 at Remington Park in November, indicated that may be his charge’s next start.
“This horse has been running so good. We tried to get him an easier spot, but we couldn’t. We decided to give him a chance to prove himself. If he’s still doing good, we’ll have to think about the Oaklawn Handicap,” he said.
Trainer Ignacio Correas was elated with the performance of the Argentine-bred Idolo Porteno, who was ridden by Florent Geroux. “My horse ran awesome, just awesome,” he exclaimed “It was eight months with no racing, his first time in America and his first time around two turns. He was awesome. I don’t know yet what we’ll do next with him,” he said.
Violette said that the Oaklawn Handicap is in his sights for Upstart’s next start but is leaving that open until he gets the horse back to his base and evaluates how he comes out of the race.
Source: Oaklawn Park