Highway Star wins NYSS Staten Island a week after Breeders' Cup

November 11, 2018 04:42pm
Highway Star_NYSS Staten Island 2018_615x400
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

Highway Star scored an easy victory in Sunday's $125,000 New York Stallion Series Staten Island Stakes at Aqueduct, but what made the performance so impressive was that it came only eight days after running in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. allowed Highway Star to settle far back at the break before picking off the competitors one by one. The 5-year-old daughter of Girolamo was near the front by the time she turned for home and scooted away from the field.

With enough space between her and the other fillies and mares, Ortiz Jr. had her under wraps as they cantered across the wire in front, finishing the seven furlongs in 1:25.58, four lengths in front.

I had never ridden her before," Ortiz Jr. said, "but when I asked, she gave me a good kick into the turn and was travelling really nice.

"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. Once I realized I was OK, I saved something (for next time)."

Starlite Mission closed for second over Frostie Anne and Frosty Margarita.

Although Highway Star was eighth in the Breeders' Cup, trainer Rodrigo Ubillo got Chester and Mary Broman's multiple graded stakes-winning homebred back on top two weeks earlier in the Iroquois Stakes at Belmont Park, her first win in 13 months.

"If you don't run, you don't know. I think the track had a lot to do with it and that's why she didn't perform the way I know she can run," Ubillo said of the Filly & Mare Sprint, where Ortiz Jr. won aboard Shamrock Rose.

"It's like she didn't run in her last race. It sounds crazy that she didn't run at the Breeders' Cup. She 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 also won the Staten Island in 2016, which was her first stakes win before capturing the Go for Wand Handicap (G3). She returned in 2017 to win the Distaff Handicap (G3), the Ruffian Stakes (G2) and the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2). She is Grade 1-placed from her efforts in that year's Ogden Phipps and Ballerina.

The Staten Island improved her record to 23:10-5-2 and pushed her earnings over $1.3 million.

"Irad did a great job," Ubillo said. "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."


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