Highway Star dominates NYSS Staten Island on short rest

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

By Sarah Mace

A mere eight days removed from a solid effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs, and making her third start in 22 days, Chester and Mary Broman’s Highway Star (Girolamo) dominated Aqueduct’s Sunday feature, the 7-furlong, $125,000 Staten Island Division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series for fillies and mares by eligible New York sires.

Eleven were signed on for the sprint, but bettors did not hesitate to send Highway Star out of the gate as the overwhelming 1-2 favorite with widespread confidence that the accomplished Broman homebred could handle her intense race schedule, quick turnaround and long ship to Kentucky and back.

Unhurried in the early stages of the race – in fact dropping back from midpack to third-from-last by the first point of call – Highway Star loped along as Bluegrass Flag and Frosty Margarita vied through an opening quarter mile in 22.72.

Late along the backstretch, pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. tipped his hand, asking Highway Star for some run and, by the time she struck the bend, she had easily cruised past four rivals. Highway Star continued to weave her way up to the vanguard while rounding the turn.

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

As the main contenders lined up across the track at the quarter pole, Highway Star continued her inexorable advance, cruised through a convenient gap and took over the lead. She drew off to a sizeable margin under her own power, but was geared down late and, by the time she completed the seven furlongs in 1:25.58 over the fast going, her margin of victory was four lengths.

Starlite Mission (Mission Impazible), no worse than third throughout, finished second in her stakes debut at odds of 12-1, while Frostie Anne, one of three fillies and mares in the lineup by Frost Giant, closed from midpack to finish third. Another offspring of Frost Giant, Frosty Margarita, completed the superfecta. (VIDEO REPLAY)

Ortiz, for whom this was a maiden voyage aboard Highway Star, said, “I had never ridden her before, but when I asked, she gave me a good kick into the turn and was travelling really nice.”

Ortiz, who upon dismounting instantly started flushing his right eye, revealed that he rode the last portion of the race with a handicap, but still had the presence of mind to think of Highway Star first.

“I couldn’t see anything with my right eye from the three-eighths pole on, so I had to turn around big time to look with my left eye to watch for the competition,” said Ortiz. “Once I realized I was OK, I saved something [for next time].”

Trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said, “Irad did a great job. He was half-blind riding her, but she won easy. He had three goggles and used all of them. By the quarter pole he was trying to guide her, but he couldn’t see anymore and that’s why you see him looking back, because he was afraid somebody was coming, but nobody was coming. There was nobody near her.”

Ubillo also explained why he was confident about turning Highway Star around so soon after the Breeders’ Cup run.

“It’s like she didn’t run in her last race. It sounds crazy that she didn’t run at the Breeders’ Cup. She [finished eighth and] got beat five lengths, but it wasn’t the Highway Star that I know. She wasn’t all there. Coming back here after the race, it felt like she didn’t run. She was jumping and kicking, and this race was coming up. I decided to enter and had a few days. We could scratch the morning of, but it worked out good and I can sleep good tonight.”

Highway Star is a multiple graded stakes winner and earner of $1,326,813 from 10 wins, five seconds and two thirds. Her graded stakes scores have come in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom, Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 3 Go For Wand. This year, she has also won the Iroquois Stakes on Empire Showcase day and finished second in the Grade 2 Ruffian, the Critical Eye for state-breds and Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses. She competed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint both this year and last and, in all, has seven stakes wins on her resume.

Highway Star is one of four winners out of Stolen Star, a multiple stakes-placed homebred for the Bromans by Cat Thief, and 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 $115,000 at the 2002 Keeneland November Sale. Stolen Star has a yearling colt by Forty Tales, no foal in 2018 and has been bred to Malibu Moon.

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

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