Violette mulling whether Samraat should join Upstart in Whitney

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

August 1st, 2016

Edited press release

With Upstart already confirmed for Saturday’s $1.25 million Whitney (G1), trainer Rick Violette Jr. continues to mull the inclusion of multiple Grade 3 winner Samraat in the 1 1/8-mile Saratoga classic.

Owned and bred by Len Riggio's My Meadowview Farm in New York, Samraat equaled his career-high 104 BRIS Speed rating for his bold runner-up finish to Effinex in the Suburban H. (G2) on July 9 at Belmont Park. Violette said if the 5-year-old son of Noble Causeway skips the Whitney, he will be pointed instead to the $600,000 Woodward (G1) on September 3.

"We're still on the fence with Samraat," Violette said shortly after training hours closed Monday morning. "I'll talk to Mr. Riggio today, get his thoughts, and decide sometime tomorrow.

"I think it might be a little close from his Suburban. That was a pretty big effort, a career best, and it's only four weeks," he continued. "Sometimes horses tease you and act a little better than they really feel and they end up disappointing you. So we're just trying to be careful, he's been great to us and if you have to run one time less to get really good efforts out of them then that's what you're supposed to do."

Samraat is still looking for his first victory of 2016 after a pair of seconds in the Westchester (G3) and Suburban and a fourth-place finish in the  (G2) Brooklyn. As a 3-year-old, Samraat opened his career with five straight wins, including Grade 3 scores in the Withers and Gotham, before finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and sixth in the Belmont (G1).

If Samraat runs in the Whitney, Violette said, he will likely be ridden by Jose Ortiz.

Violette reported that Upstart continues to train forwardly ahead of his Whitney bid and will again sport the blinkers he added prior to his third-place finish in the Metropolitan H. (G1), which was won by expected Whitney heavyweight Frosted by an astounding 14 1/4 lengths.

"He's doing wonderfully. He's training great," said Violette. "We breezed him out of the gate with blinkers on and he was a rocket. He's been a little bit tardy leaving the gate and taking the last seat available rather than getting in a spot that would be most advantageous. Hopefully he breaks clean and Irad (Ortiz Jr.) can put him wherever he thinks is best.

"It's going to be a small field but I think it's a deep bunch, and if Frosted runs back to his Met Mile, we're all running for second."

Samraat photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography