Highway Star picks up second Grade 2 in Gallant Bloom, heads to Breeders’ Cup

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Highway Star (Girolamo), who has gone from strength to strength this year for trainer Rodrigo Ubillo, picked up a second Grade 2 stakes victory Sunday with a strong finish in the featured Gallant Bloom Stakes at Belmont Park. The win was Highway Star’s fifth career stakes score and fourth graded win overall.

When asked by the NYRA Communications team about whether he was planning to ship Highway Star out west to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Saturday, November 4, Ubillo said, “We’ll have to sit down and talk to [the Bromans about her next start]. Probably the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but we’re not certain as of yet.” The conditioner had a more definitive answer ready when asked by the DRF’s Dave Grening: “I had a hint, but I wasn’t sure, I was going to wait until after this race. Now, we make it official.”

Jockey Luis Saez had the call on Sunday, subbing for regular rider (and cousin) Angel Arroyo because, as Ubillo explained, “Unfortunately, Angel took a spill [on Friday] and he wasn’t ready. Luis is his cousin and he talked to him about the filly so I felt pretty good.”

Highway Star broke from the inside post of six as the 2-1 second choice and navigated the backstretch at the rail in fourth, then fifth, losing a spot to fellow New York-bred Absatootly while pinned down inside.

Moving out into the two path in the approach to the turn, then three-wide around the bend, Highway Star made up ground and was set down for the drive four wide. She set her sights on odds-on favorite and Chad Brown-trainee Carina Mia, who took over the lead just past the quarter pole after Lucy N Ethel set early fractions of 22.59 and 45.94.

Asked for another gear in the lane, Highway Star found it. She closed the gap to Carina Mia, got the lead with less than a sixteenth of mile to go and inched away to win by a neck.

New York-bred Quezon finished a half-length back in third and, after a gap of more than six lengths, Absatootly, Friend of Liberty and pacesetter Lucy N Ethel completed the order of finish. After six furlongs in 1:10.31, Highway Star Stopped the clock at 1:16.91. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRAA/Annette Jasko

Saez said, “They told me to break and see how I was and go from there and see what happens. I was a little worried because I had the one hole and I knew everyone was going to come down and we’d be stuck down [on the rail].”

Saez continued, “As soon as I got the opportunity, I came out and followed [Carina Mia] for Javier [Castellano]. When we came into the stretch, [Highway Star] took off. I was watching the replay of how she ran last time [second by a head in the Grade 1 Ballerina on August 26]. That was a big race she ran and I knew she was going to be tough to beat.”

Said Ubillo, “She broke good and then something happened on the backside so she fell back a little bit farther back than I wanted her to. Luis then took her to the outside and she made up a little ground. By the end of the race she came on again to finish strong.”

Highway Star is now five for six over Big Sandy. As Ubillo explained, “She trains here and I gallop her in the mornings and you can tell she really loves this track.”

Highway Star, who has won eight of 13 lifetime starts, finished second once and third twice, has made her last five starts in graded company. The Gallant Bloom victory brings Highway Star’s earnings in the neighborhood of $1 million ($969,000).

Unraced at two and winner of five of seven starts at three, Highway Star has blossomed at four, holding her own with the best female sprinters in the country. In the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes, she finished third to Songbird and Paid Up Subscriber. She missed winning the Grade 1 Ballerina by just a head to By the Moon.

Highway Star is one of three winners out of Stolen Star, a multiple stakes-placed homebred for the Bromans by Cat Thief, and is a half-sister to the Bromans’ multiple stakes winner and Friend or Foe, now a sire. Chester Broman purchased Stolen Star’s dam, Unbridled Star (Unbridled), for just $115,000 at the 2002 Keeneland November Sale.

Stolen Star currently has an unraced juvenile colt by Into Mischief named Fast Getaway and a weanling colt by Forty Tales. She was breed to Alpha in 2017.

Highway Star’s sire Girolamo, a Grade 1-winning son of A.P. Indy owned by Darley, began his stud career in 2012 at Becky Thomas and Dennis Narlinger’s Sequel Stallions New York before relocating to Kentucky.

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