ELMONT, NY – Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Highway Star overcame traffic troubles on more than one occasion to nip Carina Mia at the wire in Sunday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park.
Breaking from the rail under jockey Luis Saez (replacing the injured Angel Arroyo), Highway Star settled midpack in the field of six fillies and mares while Lucy N Ethel set early fractions of :22.59 and :45.94. At one point along the backstretch, Saez was forced to pull up on Highway Star to avoid being squeezed between Absatootly to her outside and Quezon down low. Rounding the far turn, the field flanked five-wide, with Highway Star chasing down the newly-leading Carina Mia. The pair battled through the stretch to the wire, with the Rodrigo Ubillo trainee crossing first by a neck in a final time of 1:16.91 for the 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint.
“She broke good, and then something happened on the backside, so she fell back a little bit farther back than I wanted her to,” Ubillo said. “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.”
Quezon rallied well along the rail to finish only a 1/2 length back in third. Absatootly, Friend of Liberty, and Lucy N Ethel completed the order of finish.
“She trains here and I gallop her in the mornings, and you can tell she really loves this track,” Ubillo said. “Unfortunately, Angel took a spill a couple of days ago and he wasn’t ready. Luis is his cousin and he talked to him about the filly, so I felt pretty good.”
The win was Highway Star’s third of the year – all graded stakes – and improved her record to 13-8-1-2 with career earnings of $969,000. Having raced her entire career exclusively on the NYRA circuit, her connections may finally feel comfortable shipping the 4-year-old daughter of Girolamo out of state to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar in November.
Highway Star returned $6.20 to win, $2.70 to place, and $2.10 to show. Carina Mia brought back $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show, while Quezon paid $2.80 to show.