The first Saturday in May is a distant spot on the calendar.
But for a handful of 3-year-olds taking aim at the Kentucky Derby, the time is now to begin their march to the Run for the Roses.
A few of the top contenders are scheduled to make their 2015 debuts Saturday in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Foremost among them:
▪ Upstart, who stamped his name among leading Derby contenders when he finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November.
▪ Frosted, who finished a strong second in the Grade II Remsen Stakes in November at New York’s Aqueduct.
▪ Frammento, who finished a solid second in a Dec.17 allowance test at Gulfstream for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito.
▪ Bluegrass Singer, who followed his 41/2-length victory over Frammento in the allowance event with another impressive victory in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream.
Upstart figures to receive strong wagering interest in the 11/16-mile Holy Bull based on his accomplishments as a 2-year-old. The ridgling punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with a second-place performance behind Daredevil in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont.
“He’s underlining that he’s a significantly good horse,” trainer Richard Violette Jr. said. “Certainly, he belongs in the elite of the 3-year-olds this year, as long as he proves it. He’s more than just a nice New York-bred. He’s a nice horse.”
Zito, who stood in the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle with Strike the Gold and Go for Gin, is banking on Frammento to get him there a third time.
“He’s been consistent for me, and that’s all I want,” Zito said.
Frosted overcame a disadvantageous post (No.13) and tough trip before settling for second behind rail-running Leave the Light On in the Remsen.
“He ran huge,” his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said. “He had the 13 hole, the track was a conveyor belt, and he was unlucky to lose.”