Road to the Derby Recap: Upstart Gets Knocked Out by Stewards


Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth via a disqualification. (Photo credit: Gulfstream Park)

We had three Derby points races this weekend, one involving a knockout, one won by a star, and the other contested over a sloppy track where being far right was not the place to be.

Itsaknockout, International Star and Far Right were the winners, but did we see the 2015 Kentucky Derby in action this weekend? It’s possible we did and he did not compete in any of the three Derby preps.

More on that after a quick look at the Derby points races:

Stewards TKO Upstart in Fountain of Youth

Holy Bull (G2) winner Upstart was sent off as the betting favorite in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and drew clear late to win by 2 ¾ lengths, but after exchanging a few bumps in the stretch and drifting out, he was disqualified from first and placed second with Itsaknockout declared the winner in a controversial finish.

I had Upstart on top and it cost us the win and the exacta, but I thought the stewards made the right call, or at least a call they had to make.

Upstart trainer Rick Violette does not agree with me.

“Bad call. They (the stewards) have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth, the only place the horse can go is to the right,” said Violette, who stated his view that Itsaknockout made first contact. “It’s disappointing. The horse ran great; we just don’t get credit for it.”

I’m no fan of Upstart jockey Jose Ortiz, and if I was Violette I would go shopping for a new jockey. Upstart was listed at 12-1 last week at Bovada in early Derby future betting and may drop a couple of points when new prices come out this week.

Fountain of Youth Replay


Risen Star Winner is a Star

International Star showed his win at 9-1 in the Lecomte (G3) over the Fair Grounds main track was no fluke, coming right back to win the Risen Star (G2) by a length in a sharp effort over War Story.

The colt was making his second start as a three-year-old after winning two of six starts last year. He has won on poly, is stakes placed on turf and now a graded stakes winner on dirt.

The colt was listed at 33-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at Bovada last week.

The Todd Pletcher trained J S Bach was my top pick in the Southwest (G3) which was postponed, and I made him my top pick in this race, only he spiked a fever and had to scratch.

Imperia disappointed as the betting favorite, checking in fifth. It was his first start since running second behind El Kabeir in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on Nov. 29.

Risen Star Replay


Far Right Takes Down Southwest at Oaklawn Park

Far Right used a far left trip in the stretch to win the Southwest (G3) on Sunday, with jockey Mike Smith coming four wide around the far turn and like he did in the Smarty Jones cut up the inside to rally for the victory.

The Truth Or Else came with a wide run and had the lead in the stretch but had to settle for second, beaten three-quarters of a length for the win.

It was odd to see Mike Smith take the rail home while Calvin Borel on The Truth Or Else lost so much ground going wide much of the trip.

Mr. Z had to settle for third and has now landed in the money in seven stakes without a win. His trainer D. Wayne Lukas will just keep on trying with him I guess. He has earned plenty of cash but only 14 Derby points.

Southwest Replay


Pletcher’s Khozan Looks Special

We had three Derby preps but the buzz horse of the weekend was Todd Pletcher’s Khozan, who has a sister that was pretty good by the name of Royal Delta.

The colt made his debut on Jan. 24 and won by 3 ¾ lengths, earning a 103 Beyer. He came back on Sunday in a first level allowance race and while he won by 12 ¾ lengths, his Beyer dipping to 90.

We will find out if he is the real deal soon. Pletcher is pointing him to the Florida Derby (G1) on March 28.

Khozan’s Allowance Score


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