Upstart, Madefromlucky tune up as connections mull Travers
Holy Bull (G2) winner Upstart sped five furlongs in a bullet :59.05 over Saratoga's main track on Saturday, but trainer Rick Violette was in no hurry to nail down Travers (G1) plans. According to the NYRA notes, he'd prefer to run only if Triple Crown champion American Pharoah goes elsewhere.
"We'll probably have to enter because (American Pharoah) plans on getting on a plane Wednesday morning. Entry day is Tuesday night, so I'll talk with the owners (Ralph Evans and WinStar Farm) and see," Violette said.
"He (Upstart) breezed freakishly this morning -- started fast and finished fast. He breezed as good as he or many other horses could breeze."
Last across the wire in an anamolous Kentucky Derby (G1) performance, the New York-bred sophomore turned the page with a third to American Pharoah in the Haskell (G1).
"He came out of the Haskell great," Violette said. "He needed that race big time. You throw out the (Kentucky) Derby and he hasn't had a real race since March, and he ran like it. He ran to the eighth pole and then he grinded home. So we'll be a better horse Saturday if he runs, and he's showing it."
Irad Ortiz Jr. will pick up the mount aboard Upstart if he goes in the Travers.
"He's the hottest rider in the country," the trainer noted. "He hasn't done many things wrong so we're happy to use him back."
Also weighing the pros and cons of the Travers is Madefromlucky, who negotiated a half-mile in :48.68 at the Spa on Saturday. The Todd Pletcher pupil has won the Peter Pan (G2) and West Virginia Derby (G2) last out when encountering a Pharoah-free zone. When facing the champ, he's finished a distant second in the Rebel (G2), fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and sixth in the Belmont (G1).
"I thought he worked well, consistent with the way he normally breezes," Pletcher said. "We'll see how he comes out of it and continue to assess the (Travers) field."
Madefromlucky has an attractive option in the September 19 Pennsylvania Derby (G2).
"I don't think it's any secret that the Pennsylvania Derby is going to be an easier race. We're assessing how he's doing, how this field is shaping up. He's the kind of horse that would benefit from a lively pace. I'm not sure the Travers is going to be a real hot pace, but I do think the mile and a quarter would suit him well."
Upstart photo courtesy of Natalie Fawkes/Adam Coglianese Photography.