Upstart, third to American Pharoah in Sunday’s Haskell Invitational (G1) in his first start since trailing a field of 18 in the Kentucky Derby (G1), will now target the $1 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on August 29.

“He came out of the race great; cooled out well and scoped clean,” trainer Rick Violette said. “It was a very fast race and we ran well off the bench. To me, he ran like he needed the race.”

Runner-up in the Champagne (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at two, Upstart kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a victory in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park. He was demoted from first to second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) next out, and was also second in the Florida Derby (G1) in his final classic prep.

“We tried to win, and it probably cost us second money,” said Violette in reference to the Haskell. “We were off the bridle to stay in the race. If we dropped our hands and made just one run, then we might have gotten second, but we went down there to win. [Jockey] Joe [Bravo] did a great job; we were in the right place, just not enough fuel in the tank.

“I think we can move forward for the Travers; the pace will be a little bit different, as well,” Violette said. “We made the decision to run [in the Haskell] but it would have been interesting to run in [the Jim Dandy {G2}]; the race shape was totally different. I think we would have been on the bridle [in the Jim Dandy], just off the pace, and we might have had something to say. If that’s the group that shows up for the Travers, I think we’ll have some fun.”

(Photo: Adam Coglianese Photography)