Itsaknockout trainer Todd Pletcher joined a large crowd at Gulfstream Park on Saturday in waiting more than 5 minutes to learn if his horse or rival Upstart would be the winner of the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth.
”I thought it was a jump ball,” Pletcher said about a jockey objection and stewards inquiry.
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Possession to Itsaknockout.
Itsaknockout won the Grade 2 stakes race after first-place finisher Upstart was disqualified to second when stewards concluded the ridgling had drifted out and obstructed Itsaknockout.
”Definitely, we got impeded a bit and (jockey) Luis (Saez) had to stop riding for a couple strides,” Pletcher said. ”I don’t know how it would eventually affect the outcome.”
Itsaknockout earned 50 points toward becoming eligible for the Kentucky Derby. The top 20 points earners in designated races will be eligible for the May 2 race at Churchill Downs.
Heavily favored Upstart, ridden by Jose Ortiz, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:46.28, beating Itsaknockout by 2 3-4 lengths. Then Saez lodged an objection that the stewards validated.
”I did think (Upstart) would get taken down because he really bothered me,” Saez said. ”When we came into the stretch, I felt like my horse wanted to run so I thought we’d win the race. But the other horse came out and bothered me. I couldn’t ride my horse.”
”The horse (Frosted) on the inside came out on me and I bumped (Itsaknockout) after that,” Ortiz said. ”I bumped him just a little, but I don’t think enough to take me down.”
Bluegrass Singer set the pace through the first half of the race, before Frosted opened a clear lead near the 5/16 pole. Upstart then was bumped by Frosted in midstretch and drifted out.
Itsaknockout quickly challenged Upstart to the outside and the two horses exchanged bumps. Upstart drew clear in the final sixteenth.
”It’s disappointing. The horse ran great. We just don’t get credit for it,” said Upstart trainer Rick Violette, who said the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 4 could be an option for his horse rather than the Florida Derby on March 28.
As Violette was leaving the winner’s circle, a fan yelled that Upstart should have won the race. ”He did win,” the trainer shot back.
Upstart, who earned 10 Kentucky Derby points by winning the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 24, added 20 points in the Fountain of Youth.
Itsaknockout, owned by Starlight Racing, paid $12.80, $5 and $4.00. The bay colt sired by Lemon Drop Kid out of Stromy B (Cherokee Run) has won all three of his career starts, previously capturing a pair of one-turn victories at Gulfstream Park.
”The thing I’m most proud of is for this horse to run this well in his third lifetime start, first time around two turns and first time in a stake,” Pletcher said. ”It was a very, very good effort. He was in between horses in a situation he hasn’t been in before, so it was a big effort.”