Chester and Mary Broman's homebred Highway Star ran up to grade 1 winner Carina Mia in the stretch and managed to get a neck in front at the wire of the $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) Sept. 24 under jockey Luis Saez. It was the fourth graded stakes win for the Rodrigo Ubillo-trained 4-year-old filly.
The New York-bred daughter of Girolamo finished second by a head to By The Moon last time out in the Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. In that Aug. 26 race, Carina Mia finished third, one length behind Highway Star.
In the 6 1/2-furlong test Sunday at Belmont Park, Lucy N Ethel took the early lead as Quezon raced in second and Carina Mia raced wide in third through the first quarter-mile in :22.59. Highway Star was fifth out of six after the first quarter. Carina Mia moved up to engage Lucy N Ethel as they went through a half-mile in :45.94.
Carina Mia shook off Lucy N Ethel, grabbed the lead at the top of the lane and took the field through six furlongs in 1:10.31. Highway Star, who was covered up between horses off the turn, found daylight down the center of the track and ran down Carina Mia in the final strides. The final time was 1:16.91 over a fast track.
"I was watching the replay of how she ran last time (in the Ballerina)," Saez said. "That was a big race she ran, and I knew she was going to be tough to beat. I tried to be second (early). I knew the speed outside was going to come down, so I came behind Carina Mia and when we came down the stretch, she took off."
Off at 2-1, the winner returned $6.20, $2.70, and $2.10 across the board.
"She broke good and then something happened on the backside, so she fell back a little bit farther 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.
"She trains here and I gallop her in the mornings, and you can tell she really loves this track. Unfortunately (regular rider) Angel (Arroyo) 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."
After she closed out her 3-year-old season with her first graded score, the grade 3 Go For Wand Stakes, Highway Star came in fourth in the Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack and then took two consecutive graded stakes, the Distaff Handicap (G3) and the Ruffian Stakes (G2). She then jumped into grade 1 company, running third to Songbird in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) June 10 and then second in the Ballerina.
As for what's next for the multiple graded stakes winner, Ubillo mentioned a possible look at the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Del Mar.
"We'll have to sit down and talk to the owners. Probably the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but we're not certain as of yet," he said.
Bred by her owners in New York, Highway Star is out of multiple stakes placed Stolen Star (Cat Thief), who is also a Broman homebred. The filly improved her record to 8-1-2 in 13 starts with earnings of $969,000.