WinStar Farm has acquired a minority interest in Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Upstart, winner of the Holy Bull S. (G2) and runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1) and Fountain of Youth S. (G2) this winter at Gulfstream.
“Upstart has been on our radar since the Breeders’ Cup,” said Elliott Walden, WinStar President & CEO. “Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph approached me because he really believes this colt has a big future. We are honored to be partners with such a nice man as Ralph Evans on such an exciting young horse as Upstart.”
Trainer Rick Violette, Jr. will remain as the conditioner of Upstart, who breezed a bullet half mile in 47.40 seconds last Friday at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. The striking son of Flatter is slated to have one final breeze this coming weekend at Palm Meadows before shipping to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.
“When Elliott called, I became excited about what we could do together with WinStar in a partnership on Upstart,” said Ralph Evans, owner of Upstart. “We look forward to sharing in Upstart’s promising future.”
As a 2-year-old, Upstart began his career with an impressive 5 ¼-length debut win last August at Saratoga, and the talented colt returned just nine days later to also capture Saratoga’s $200,000 Funny Cide S. with a 95 Beyer. Upstart turned in a good runner-up performance behind Daredevil in the prestigious Champagne S. at Belmont in his next start, earning a 102 Beyer and a trip to the Breeders’ Cup as one of the favorites for the $2 million Juvenile (G1).
The dark bay overcame some trouble before finishing third behind Texas Red and Carpe Diem in the Breeders’ Cup, closing out a 2-year-old campaign with a record of 2-1-1 from four starts and earnings of $463,800. Wintering in Florida, Upstart began a promising 3-year-old campaign in January in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull S. (G2), drawing off in the stretch to a 5 ½-length victory over Frosted and earning a 105 Beyer in the 1 1/16-mile event. The win stamped him as one of the leading 3-year-olds in the country.
Upstart crossed the line first in his next start in Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth S. (G2) in February, but was disqualified after a controversial inquiry and placed second. He returned as the favorite in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) last month and finished a valiant second to Materiality in his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, earning a career-high 108 Beyer – the second fastest Beyer earned to date by a horse from his crop.