Consolation For Forte Connections as Up to the Mark Impresses in Turf Classic

Up to the Mark | Horsephotos


Having swallowed the most bitter of bitter pills earlier in the morning with news that Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite and 'TDN Rising Star' Forte (Violence) was being scratched from the GI Kentucky Derby, owner Mike Repole was handed a measure of consolation when Up to the Mark (Not This Time) came rolling down the center of the Matt Winn turf course to prove a comprehensive winner of the GI Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic.

Exchanging bumps at the break with Earls Rock (Ire) (Fascinating Rock {Ire}), Up to the Mark settled in a midfield fifth for the run past the stands first time around, as Bye Bye Melvin (Uncle Mo) crossed from his outside draw and led from defending champion Santin (Medaglia d'Oro). Traveling in a nice rhythm down the backstretch, Up To the Mark commenced a rally leaving the three-furlong peg and had the leaders in the crosshairs at the quarter pole. Four wide at the head of the lane as Santin displaced Bye Bye Melvin at the head of affairs, the $450,000 Keeneland September yearling hit the front under a right-handed stick outside the eighth pole and ran out a convincing winner over Hong Kong Harry (Ire) (Es Que Love {Ire}). Spooky Channel (English Channel) just outfinished Ocean Atlantique (American Pharoah) for third.

A maiden winner in five starts on the dirt to begin his career, Up to the Mark looked reinvented when hacking up by four lengths when trying the grass for the first time at Gulfstream Jan. 28. Doubling up at the next allowance level Mar. 4, he was bet all the way down into 5-1 against the likes of Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the Apr. 14 GI Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland and just missed second behind the Eclipse Award winner.

“It unfolded beautifully,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, winning a third Turf Classic. “He got a really good trip, was able to save a little ground. The horse relaxed nicely and had a good turn of foot when called upon. We'll probably go to the [June 10 GI Resorts World Casino] Manhattan [S.] on Belmont Day next.”

Pedigree Notes:

Up to the Mark is the 25th stakes winner, 11th graded winner and fifth Grade I winner for Not This Time and his first on the turf. He is the Taylor Made stallion's second top-level scorer of 2023, joining Dubai Golden Shaheen hero Sibelius. Ghostzapper's daughters have now produced 33 BTWs, 18 GSWs and five Grade I winners, two others of which descend from the Storm Cat sire line and one of which is 2018 Derby winner Justify (Scat Daddy).

Up to the Mark is out of an unraced daughter of Robert and Lawana Lows' 1996 GI Test S. winner Capote Belle, who also produced SW & GSP Zapper Belle (Ghostzapper) and Gata Bella (Storm Cat), the dam of MGSW/MGISP Catapult (Kitten's Joy) and SW Ha Ha Tonka (Distorted Humor).

The 9-year-old Belle's Finale, who was purchased by Ramspring Farm carrying a year-older full-brother to Up to the Mark for $70,000 at Keeneland November in 2017, is also the dam of the 3-year-old filly Cookie Crumbs (Mendelssohn), a 2-year-old West Coast filly, a yearling colt by McKinzie and a Maxfield colt foaled Apr. 12.

Saturday, Churchill Downs
OLD FORESTER BOURBON TURF CLASSIC S.-GI, $1,000,000, Churchill Downs, 5-6, 4yo/up, 1 1/8mT, 1:47.31, fm.
1–UP TO THE MARK, 123, c, 4, by Not This Time
               1st Dam: Belle's Finale, by Ghostzapper
               2nd Dam: Capote Belle, by Capote
               3rd Dam: Rythmical, by Fappiano
WIN. ($450,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable and St. Elias
Stable; B-Ramspring Farm (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz,
Jr. $601,400. Lifetime Record: 9-4-0-2, $829,550. Werk Nick
Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Hong Kong Harry (Ire), 123, g, 6, Es Que Love (Ire)–Vital Body
(Fr), by Gold Away (Ire). 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. (£185,000 RNA
4yo '21 GOFFLN; 85,000gns 4yo '21 TATAHI). O-Scott Anastasi,
Jimmy Ukegawa & Tony Valazza; B-Amarath Business
Management (IRE); T-Philip D'Amato. $194,000.
3–Spooky Channel, 123, g, 8, English Channel–Spooky Kitten, by
Kitten's Joy. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($10,000 Ylg '16 FTKOCT).
O-NBS Stable; B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Jason Barkley. $97,000.
Margins: 3 3/4, 1 1/4, HD. Odds: 2.63, 3.64, 4.37.
Also Ran: Ocean Atlantique, Santin, Wolfie's Dynaghost, Earls Rock (Ire), Bye Bye Melvin. Scratched: Master Piece (Chi), Steady On. Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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