By Sarah Mace
Trainer Rick Violette had Upstart just where he hoped he would be for his 2016 debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $350,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park after six months on the bench. The talented New York-bred relaxed early, launched a sustained bid from midway on the far turn and drove relentlessly toward a one-length victory over nine rivals in the 1 1/16-mile dirt contest.
Violette commented last week on the ridgling’s lay-off and development from three to four. “He had a long, hard season as a 3-year-old, and we thought it best to give him some time off,” said Violette. “He is bigger, stronger. He’s filled out – what you would hope for.” Violette originally targeted the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 5 for Upstart’s 2016 debut, but deemed his charge needed a couple more weeks before his first race and opted for the Razorback.
Conceding two to eight pounds to his rivals as the 120-pound highweight on Saturday, and bet down to 5-2 favoritism in the field of ten under jockey Joe Bravo, Upstart bided his time in the early stages of the race after breaking from post eight. He traveled in seventh about a half-dozen lengths off the pace while negotiating the clubhouse turn three wide. Up front, pacesetter Shotgun Kowboy clocked the first quarter mile at a good clip in :23.15 and moderated the pace for a quarter in :47.50.
After cruising down the backstretch, Upstart began to come under some extra encouragement as he rounded the far turn five wide. Showing no hint of leg-weariness in the stretch, the blaze-faced dark bay kept driving relentlessly to the lead . . . and the wire, gaining the top spot with a furlong to go and driving home for a one-length victory. After a mile run in 1:37.77, he stopped the clock at 1:44.12.
Said jockey Joe Bravo, “I’m going to give full credit to the whole Rick Violette team for bringing this horse together. When you’re off that long, it’s tough to get a horse ready to run. He left there really nicely, relaxed really good the first turn. Probably a little farther back than Rick wanted. But, he was so comfortable and relaxed. I was really happy the way he was going.”
Bravo continued, “You saw the move he made around the turn. He’s back. He’s a pretty nice horse. He proved it to everybody. I’m just glad he’s a big, happy horse for the rest of the season.”
Said Violette, “I couldn’t be happier. He gave up ground on both turns but he was resolute up the lane. He ran right through. He’s back to where we hoped he would be and I’m thrilled.”
Bred by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen and foaled at her Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, Upstart was purchased by owner Ralph Evans on Violette’s advice at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale from the Summerfield consignment for $130,000. WinStar Farm acquired a minority interest in the horse last April.
A real looker from the start, Upstart waged two strong back-to-back campaigns at two and three. Winner of his 5 1/2-furlong Saratoga debut from off the pace by open lengths, he followed up just nine days later with a victory as a supplemental entry to the state-bred Funny Cide Stakes. Upstart wrapped up the year with a wide-trip second to Daredevil in the slop in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont before shipping out west to run a strong third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
In 2015 Upstart emerged as a top contender for the Kentucky Derby in three starts at Gulfstream Park. Dominant winner of the Grade 2 Holy Bull in his sophomore debut, Upstart was controversially disqualified from a clear victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He then ran second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Unplaced in the Kentucky Derby, Upstart ran three more times in 2015, finishing third in the Grade 1 Haskell to American Pharoah, fourth in the Travers and fifth in the Pennsylvania Derby. To date he has earned $1,460,280 in 12 starts from four wins, three seconds and two thirds.
The New York-bred offerings at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2016 March sale of 2-year-olds in training topped out in the second and concluding session with Hip 558, a filly by Twirling Candy who was purchased by Alex Solis II and Jason Litt on behalf of the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods for $825,000. The filly was the top-selling female of the sale.
The second best New York-bred seller, a filly by Uncle Mo, went to Dennis O’Neill in Wednesday’s opening session for $350,000, but the second day of selling also saw two more New York-bred standouts besides the filly topper: the top-selling Empire-bred colt and top New York-sired juvenile, a speedy filly by Frost Giant. Overall the New York-bred 2-year-olds outperformed the general population of the sale in both average and median.
The dark bay or brown Twirling Candy filly was a brilliant pinhook, originally purchased by Carrie Brogden’s Machmer Hall as a weanling at the Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed sale for $50,000. On the third day of the OBS breeze show the filly showed how fast she had become, firing a co-bullet quarter mile when she covered the distance in :22 2/5.
Consignor Nick de Meric said after the breeze, “She’s been in my son Tristan’s division, and has been just wicked fast every time she ever breezed. She’s an outstanding mover, very athletic and, as fast as she is, looks like she’ll stretch out and go two turns when the time comes.”
“That was a great filly,” Litt told the TDN after the purchase. “She did everything right, and we are elated to have her.”
Bred by Mares Rule II, the filly topper is out of Felicitee, a winning daughter of Menifee and a half sister to graded stakes placed Mazella and stakes-placed Veuve. The mare has already produced two winners from two foals to race.
The top New York-bred colt, a chestnut from the second crop of Trappe Shot who sold as Hip 320, went to Steven W. Young, Agent from the consignment of Steven Venosa’s SGV Thoroughbreds for $280,000. A graduate of the the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, the colt was another clever pinhook, purchased by IBA for $55,000 last summer.
Bred by Eaton & Thorne, Inc, Hip 320 is out of That’s OK, an unplaced daughter of Not For Love. A former $700,000 Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old purchase, That’s OK was bought by Jonathan Thorne as a 3-year-old at the Keeneland November sale for $12,000. The mare, who has produced one winner, is a full sister to Grade 1-placed Forever Partners and half-sister to stakes winner Pal’s Partner. The sale filly’s third dam is stakes winner and multiple stakes producer Thanks Pal.
The Frost Giant filly who emerged as top-selling New York-sired New York-bred sold as Hip 532 to Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. for $200,000 on the nose. Bred by Dormellito Stud and consigned by Dormellito Stud Sales, the dark bay/brown juvenile breezed the same co-bullet quarter of :22 2/5 as the top-selling Twirling Candy filly.
The filly’s dam Easy Erin, a winning New York-bred daughter of Johannesburg, has already produced two winners from two starters and issues from a well-known and productive New York family. Easy Erin’s dam is 1997 New York-bred Horse of the Year Dancin Renee. The seven-time stakes winner went on to produce five winners, including multiple stakes winner Risky Rachel. Dancin Renee is also the half sister of two-time New York-bred horse of the Year Say Florida Sandy, an earner of over $2 million. Frost Giant stands for Keane Stud for a 2016 fee of $7,500.
Of 32 New York-breds offered at the OBS March sale, 18 sold (including two private sales) for a high buyback percentage of 43.8. Eleven of those horses, however, commanded six figures and the New York-breds outperformed the general population with an average price of $170,333 and a median of $112,500. The average price for the sale at large was $158,923 (down 7%) while the median was $100,000 (down 5%).
A New York-bred filly from the second crop of Uncle Mo was the top New York-bred juvenile to change hands during the first session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2016 March sale of 2-year-olds in training on Tuesday. Three other New York-breds, all fillies, fetched six-figures during the session.
Dennis O’Neill went to $350,000 to secure the bay topper (Hip 40) from the Mayberry Farm consignment after she posted a :10 1/5 breeze in the under tack show. Bred by Joe DiRico, the sale filly is out of Jessica’s Halo and a half-sister to seven winners, led by Jessica is Back (Put It Back), winner of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney H. in 2010 and earner of over $836,000. Hip 40 sold first last summer at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale to Chace Stable for $130,000.
Hip 178, who turned heads with a co-bullet :9 4/5 breeze on the first day of the under tack show, was purchased from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment by Westrock Stables LLC for $185,000 via private sale. From the first crop of Mclean’s Music out of Placerita (Gilded Time), she is a half-sister to stakes winner Saturday Nite Ride and issues from the family of Grade 1 winners The Big Beast and Slew the Dragon. Bred by Canyon Lake Thoroughbreds, she went for $50,000 as a short yearling at last year’s Keeneland January mixed sale before being purchased by Woodford Sales for $117,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale.
A pair of chestnuts consigned by Sequel Bloodstock also met the six-figure threshold. Hip 55 from the first crop of New York sire Mission Impazible brought $150,000. Bred in partnership by Sequel Thoroughbreds & Twin Creeks Farm, she breezed a :10 flat eighth under tack. Out of Kettle’s Sister, a Maryland-bred daughter of More Than Ready, she is a half-sister to Vinceremos (Pioneerof the Nile), winner of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, and one other winner. The filly’s second dam is stakes-placed Safe at the Plate, who is a half-sister to champion sprinter and $2.1-million-dollar earner Safely Kept. Hip 55’s half-sister by Majestic Warrior, now a placed runner, sold for $300,000 on the first day of last year’s OBS March sale.
Finally, an Awesome Again filly bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, LLC (Hip 133) was hammered down to Kenwood Racing LLC for $100,000 after posting a :10.2 breeze. Out of stakes-placed runner Money My Honey (Red Bullet), the filly’s second dam is Grade 1 winner Collect the Cash, producer of Grade 1 winner Stately Victor. She too is a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale, purchased by $50,000 by Global Thoroughbreds.
Of the 14 New York-bred 2-year-olds on offer Tuesday, eight sold (including the private sale) for an average of $125,875 and $97,500 median.
Overall in the opening session of the OBS sale the average price was $160,741, down 11.5% from last year. The overall median dipped 4.2% to $115,000.
By Sarah Mace
Masie Stable homebred Miss Matzoball (Smoke Glacken) made her stakes debut on Saturday a winning one when she got up in the final strides to land a victory in Gulfstream Park’s $75,000 Captiva Island, a 5-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares.
A three-time winner going into the Captiva Island, 4-year-old Miss Matzoball was coming off a career-best performance for trainer Roy Lerman, a 1 1/2-length victory in a second-level allowance race at Gulfstream on February 14 under Javier Castellano at the same trip as the Captiva Island. Partnered with Edgar Zayas on Saturday she was drawn in post five of eight and sent off at generous odds of 9-1.
Though bumped at the break, Miss Matzoball managed to settle nicely into stride behind the pacesetters, while an eager Maggiesfreuddnslip pulled her way to the front in the three path and led the field by 1 1/2 lengths through a first quarter in 21.19 and a half in 43.02.
Clear of traffic, Miss Matzoball worked her way up into fourth approaching the quarter pole while the top two betting choices caught up with Maggiesfreuddnslip, favorite Jewel of a Cat on the outside and second-choice Katie’s Kiss on the inside.
Maggiesfreuddnslip bore out in the turn, carrying Jewel of a Cat with her. Katie’s Kiss then scooted into the lead on the inside. Miss Matzoball came through in-between the new leader and a recovered Jewel of a Cat, with a determined final bid.
Surging in the final sixteenth, Miss Matzoball outsprinted Jewel of a Cat for second and overhauled Katie’s Kiss in the final strides to get up to win by a half-length, stopping the clock at 54.92 for a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 98.
“She’s a nice filly,” winning trainer Roy Lerman said. “She’s only run one poor race, her first start when she bled at Saratoga as a 2-year-old. She’s always right there and very honest, very calm. She’s easy to be around. She’s more like a pony really.”
Lerman continued, “I knew Maggie had extreme speed, quicker than any of these other horses. I thought if she made the lead she’d be very tough to get by. It didn’t work out that way, but it set up for Miss Matzoball because she’s very handy. She’s quick, but not with extreme speed. You can put her wherever you want.”
Now a four-time winner with two seconds and a third from 10 starts, Miss Matzoball has earned $181,527.
Foaled at Stone Bridge Farm in Gansevoort, Miss Matzoball is the first foal out of Miss Matzo, a Maryland-bred daughter of Royal Academy who was unplaced in her single career start. Miss Matzo has produced three other fillies, a 3-year-old by Girolamo named Moonshine Cate, a two-year-old by Girolamo named Kinky Sox and a Proud Citizen yearling named Citizen Matzo. She was bred to Gio Ponti last year.
This week we will be speaking with Peter Penny, one of the foremost yearling inspectors for the Fasig-Tipton Sales company and Fasig’s Florida and New York representative.
Peter thank you for taking some time out of what must be your busiest time of year. I’m sure you are logging many miles getting to each and every farm to inspect yearlings for the upcoming Summer sales. I’d like to speak with you about some of the ways people can facilitate the inspection of their prized yearlings when you arrive to look them over. Your work has certainly paid off over the years because the averages in the summer select sales most notably the NY Bred Preferred sale has gone up on a yearly basis and continues to be one of the best places to purchase a nice yearling. It’s NYTB’s Flagship sale and we appreciate the work you and Fasig-Tipton have put into making it what it is today; a strong market in our home marketplace.
We know how special we feel when one of our horses is accepted to one of the Summer select sales. But as we both know the process starts in January with the free nomination provided by Fasig-Tipton on the website and through direct mail.
Is it too late to still get a nomination in to Fasig-Tipton for those who may have overlooked the due date?
No it is not too late to get a horse nominated to our sales. We are fairly flexible with our nomination deadlines, because we realize they do come up fast, and people can overlook them. We do ask you please get them in as soon as possible, because we are in certain areas only once, with a tight schedule, and have to set up times and dates accordingly.
What is the process that takes place in house from when Fasig-Tipton receives the nomination and when you are given a list of yearlings to inspect?
When the nomination is received, it is put into our database. Then it will be sorted by location, state, city, farm, etc. Once that is done the various locations are plotted on a map, by way of mapping software. Then the various trips are lined up, people are called with the exact time and date we will be coming to inspect. Once all stops are confirmed, all the information is downloaded onto the individual inspectors IPAD. We have developed software that really makes it a lot easier than in the past when we used to just use inspection cards. It provides us with information that helps us to decide on which sale that particular horse fits best, it includes, foaling date, pedigrees, sire yearling averages, and pinhook prices. All this is coordinated by Vicki Cooper, and her staff in our Ky. office. They really do a great job, and make our jobs a whole lot easier.
Why does Fasig-Tipton select the horses by pedigree first rather than have you inspect everyone that is nominated?
Unfortunately we have a limited number of stalls at the sales grounds in Saratoga, and as you can imagine our nominations go up every year because of the increased foal crop in N.Y. This sale has really improved over the last few years, and its average has steadily increased each year. This process helps us bring down the numbers to a manageable level.
Once you get the list of yearlings to inspect what is the general schedule you will follow timeline wise from state to state? (very generally what month what state?)
We inspect in March and April. We usually start with the south eastern states, due to weather considerations. We start with the Carolina’s, Ga., Ca., TX, La., and Fl., in early March, and then move north in late March, and April. This will include Md., Pa., VA., and De. , Ky., N.Y., and Can.
When the owner is contacted by Fasig-Tipton that you will be stopping by to inspect yearlings, what is the average lead time?
When a horse is nominated, we send out a letter with our tentative inspection schedule for that year. We then try very hard to give the owner at least a week notice before we are due to inspect.
Once a farm is contacted what can they do to get their yearling ready for your visit? Blacksmith? Previously handled, schooling to walk properly? In the barn ready to show rather than out in the field? Separate colts from fillies?
It is really not for me to tell an individual owner what to do with their horse. The horsemanship level in N.Y. has improved quite a bit over the last several years, and most people know what we are looking for. The one thing I would like to get across though is, in most cases, we only get one chance to look at your horse, so I think anything that can be done to make it easier for us to get a good look at the horse, and show that horse in the best light on that day, helps with our inspections. I don’t want people to take that as us being prima donna’s, that’s not the case at all. We try very hard to accommodate everyone the best we can, and we can look through a lot of things and don’t have a problem with that, but whatever you can do to give us the best opportunity to really get a good look at your horse helps tremendously.
What will you ask the handler to do with the yearling during the inspection?
It’s really a pretty simple process. We basically ask them to stand the horse up squarely, so we can get a good look at the overall conformation, and then walk them in a straight line, away from us and then back toward us, so we can see any deviations with the front and hind end. Sometimes we will ask them to walk several times to get a better look at the overall stride.
Once the inspection is over if a person wants to get an idea where they stand will you provide that information?
We are very lucky Fasig-Tipton has the confidence in us to be able to give the owner our decision right there on the spot. We find that is the best way to do it. We look at hundreds of horses over a period of two months, and we have found it is best to decide when it is fresh in your mind, not three or four weeks later, after you have inspected many more horses. In some cases we can’t give them a decision on that day, for a variety of reason, but we will definitely let everyone know before the first of May. We don’t want anyone to have to pay an entry fee for another sales company due to us.
Do some horses demand a second inspection and if so why?
Due to the time constraints, most of the time, we really can’t get a second look. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, it’s best to have your horse looking as good as possible. There are cases when a second look is necessary. Most of the time it is due to an injury and the owner asks us to come back. Depending on location, we do try to accommodate them.
In your experience what basic characteristics makes for a better sale horse from a physical standpoint?
To me the most important characteristic is overall balance. A horse that has some stretch, and leg. A good length to the neck and shoulder are really important. A nice square hip, with a hind leg that doesn’t have too much bend or not too far behind the point of the hip. Unfortunately as inspectors we have to pick apart the overall conformation of the legs, because that’s what the market place demands, but if you see a horse that has real good balance, and looks like an athlete, you usually don’t go wrong accepting them.
Are you looking for certain sire lines our do all physical stand outs generally make the grade?
Of course pedigree matters but, within reason, the physical is the most important thing we look for. We have prided ourselves in selecting the best physical horses over the years, and it has served us very well. That’s why you see a very high percentage of Fasig-Tipton graduates, from all our sales; do so well at the races.
I’ve heard for years how people think if their horse is accepted into a “saratoga” sale it will automatically make the price go up and if it is not accepted then it’s a big disappointment; name calling, blame game, road rage, etc, etc. Does the sale make the horse or does the horse make the sale?
That’s an easy question to answer. The horse makes the sale. I don’t care where you have a sale, if you don’t have the horses it just doesn’t work. Believe me, we don’t like to turn down horses, but we try and do the best we can to get the best possible horses that fit our various sales. The market today is very tough, and placing your horse in the right spot can make all the difference. In many cases Saratoga is not the right spot for a horse. It might be a very late foal, immature, and need more time. Horses change so much in a very short time, and the extra couple months can often determine your sales success.
Since you are looking at the outside of the horse and you like what you see that is not always “the end of the story” is it? Unfortunately these days the owners of the horses have to be prepared with what is on the inside of the horse having to provide repository x-rays and scope within 10 days of the sale date. When would you recommend a set of forecast X-rays taken so the owner has time to clean things up if need be for the upcoming sale?
Unfortunately you are right about not being “The End of the Story”. Vetting has become a big issue nowadays. It is a major factor in determining whether you get your horse sold, and I do recommend people check beforehand to see if anything needs cleaning up. I think you will find most people start doing the “forecast” X-rays and scope within the next couple of months. I would recommend talking to your individual veterinarians about when to do them. They have the experience, and know what the recuperation periods are for various procedures.
Again thanks for your time and I am sure the information you have provided will be helpful to many breeders and owners out there. Thanks for all the work you do to provide us with a great marketplace for our home grown product!
Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions for Mr. Penny or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.