September 28, 2023

WinStar buys into Upstart; Velazquez commits to Carpe Diem

Last updated: 4/20/15 6:40 PM

Upstart will remain with trainer Rick Violette Jr.
(Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

WinStar Farm has acquired a minority interest in Kentucky Derby (G1)
contender Upstart (Flatter), 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 now becomes another arrow in WinStar’s Derby quiver, after multiple
Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway), co-owned with Stonestreet Stables.

There was also breaking news regarding Carpe Diem later Monday: trainer Todd
Pletcher told Daily Racing Form‘s Jay Privman that Hall of Famer John
Velazquez will stick with Carpe Diem in the Derby. Privman reported that Javier
Castellano now picks up the mount on stablemate Materiality (Afleet Alex).
Rounding out Derby jockey developments on Monday, Hall of Famer Mike Smith will
maintain his partnership with Far Right (Notional), trainer Ron Moquett tweeted.

Elliott Walden, WinStar President & CEO, commented on the farm’s interest in

“Upstart has been on our radar since the Breeders’ Cup,” Walden said. “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 2/5 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 two-year-old, Upstart began his career with an impressive 5 1/4-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 106 Brisnet Speed
rating. Upstart turned in a good runner-up performance behind Daredevil (More
Than Ready) in the prestigious Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont in his next start,
earning 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 (Afleet
Alex) and Carpe Diem in the Breeders’ Cup, closing out a two-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 three-year-old campaign in January in
Gulfstream’s Holy Bull S. (G2), drawing off in the stretch to a 5 1/2-length
victory over Frosted and earning a 105 BRIS Speed rating in the 1 1/16-mile
event. The win stamped him as one of the leading three-year-olds in the country.

Upstart crossed the line first in his next start in Gulfstream’s Fountain of
Youth in February, but was disqualified after a controversial inquiry and placed
second. He returned as the favorite in the $1 million Florida Derby last month
and finished a valiant second to Materiality in his final prep for
the Kentucky Derby.

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