Upstart Wins Razorback in 2016 Debut

UpstartRazorbackHandicap2016_2CP298 Upstart opened his 4-year-old season the same way he opened his 3-year-old year, by winning a graded stakes.

Battling four or five wide in the lane, the dark bay runner completed a long drive to edge away from Domain’s Rap Domain’s Rap and others for a one-length win in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) March 19 at Oaklawn Park. Watch Video With the win, Ralph Evans and WinStar Farm’s Upstart snapped a six-race skid that dated back to that 3-year-old debut win in the 2015 Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.

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After that 2015 season-opening effort, Upstart finished first in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) but was placed second for interference. He then finished second in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), but only placed once in his remaining three four starts of the season, a third in the William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and eventual Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Keen Ice.

On Saturday Upstart and jockey Joe Bravo settled seventh early as Shotgun Kowboy led the field through a quarter mile in :23.15 and a half mile in :47.5. The son of Flatter began his wide rally early in the far turn and maintained momentum to the wire.

Trained by Rick Violette Jr., Upstart completed the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:44.12 on a fast track to secure the third stakes win of his career. After that sustained move in Upstart’s first race since September, Bravo gave all credit to Violette.

“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,” Bravo said. “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.”

Upstart, the 5-2 favorite. returned $7.20, $4.80, and $4.40 across the board while former claimer Domain’s Rap finished second, paying $8.20 and $5.80 for the minor awards. Idolo Porteno, a grade I winner in Argentina, finished third in his U.S. debut, paying $9.40 to show.

Bred in New York by Mrs. Gerald Nielsen, Upstart is out of the unraced Touch Gold mare Party Silks. He was a $130,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton New York preferred yearling sale when consigned by Summerfield, agent for Sunnyfield Farm.