Upstart Continues to Prepare for Travers
August 22, 2015 11:39am
Although trainer Rick Violette continues to prep his star colt Upstart as if he will run in the Travers, he's yet to finalize plans with owners Ralph Evans and WinStar Farm. The decision is contingent on whether Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will also enter the race.

"We'll probably have to enter because [American Pharoah's camp] plan on getting on a plane Wednesday morning," said Violette.  "Entry day is Tuesday night so I'll talk with the owners and see."

Having already faced American Pharoah twice, first in the Kentucky Derby where Upstart finished 18th, and most recently in the Haskell where he placed third, Violette is anxious to see how his colt will run next.

"He came out of the Haskell great," said Violette. "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." 

Working this morning on the Saratoga main track, Upstart completed five furlongs in 59.05, leaving Violette extremely encouraged by the work. 

"He breezed freakishly this morning. Started fast and finished fast," Violette said. "He breezed as good as he or many other horses could breeze."

Should Upstart race in the Travers, he will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who entered Saturday as the meet's leading rider with 40 wins, including a five-win day last Sunday.
"He's the hottest rider in the country," said Violette. "He hasn't done many things wrong so we're happy to use him back."
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Limestone Thoroughbreds LTD's Mid Ocean is coming along nicely for an anticipated start in the Grade 1 Travers, according to trainer George Weaver. Sunday morning, the bay son of Mineshaft worked five furlongs under jockey Manny Franco on the main track.

"I was happy with the work," said Weaver of Mid Ocean, winner of a maiden race on July 14 at Delaware Park. "The track was pretty fast this morning, but Manny Franco, was really pleased about it. He's worked over this track a couple of times. This is his final prep [for the Travers], so I wanted a solid five-eighths, nothing gut-wrenching, and he did it the right way. He gave me all the signs that he's ready to run. He's going to have to run a heck of a lot faster than he's had to, but we're willing to take a shot. If he comes out of this work well, we should be 'all systems go' for next Saturday."

Unraced at 2, Mid Ocean started his career with several lackluster finishes at Gulfstream Park before putting in a solid third-place effort in a one-mile maiden claimer on the dirt in April. Encouraged by the performance, Weaver stretched Mid Ocean out in his next two races to 1 1/16 miles, to finish second and first.

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Harold Lerner's King of New York was nominated to the Travers after a third-place effort in the Curlin Stakes on July 31, but is now unlikely to run according to trainer Ken McPeek.

"This race was not our first choice," said McPeek, whose 31-1 Golden Ticket dead-heated with Alpha to win the 2012 Travers. "He had a good work today even though the track was a little deep. It didn't bother him, but we'd like to keep our options open and look elsewhere."

Source: NYRA Communications


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