Highland Reel dominates Secretariat on lead
Jockey Seamie Heffernan sent Highland Reel straight to the front at the break and the Irish colt’s class showed in Saturday’s $450,000 Secretariat (G1) at Arlington, winning as easy as pleased by a 5 ¼-length margin.
Owned by Coolmore and trained by Aidan O’Brien, who recorded a record fifth victory in the 1 ¼-mile turf race for three-year-olds, Highland Reel is a son of leading European sire Galileo and cost $770,000 at auction. He posted his first stakes victory at age two, capturing the Vintage (G2) at Goodwood in his third start, and finished second to New Bay in the May 31 Prix du Jockey Club (G1) at Chantilly in his second outing this year.
The bay Irish-bred was exiting a facile victory in the July 29 Gordon (G3) at Goodwood and with the $267,300 Secretariat payday, Highland Reel has now earned $854,940 from his 8-4-2-0 record.
Off as the 2-1 second choice among seven rivals in rainy conditions, Highland Reel was clear through opening splits of :24.53 and :50.09. He reached the three-quarters pole in 1:14.72 with a 2 1/2-length lead and widened the advantage through the stretch drive, stopping the teletimer in 2:02.26.
“I didn’t see much pace and he won easy,” Heffernan said.
The only suspense involved second, with the 14-1 Closing Bell rallying determinedly to edge 3-2 favorite Force the Pass by a head. It was another three-length gap to Goldstream, with Crittenden, War Dispatch and Granny’s Kitten completing the order of finish.
Out of the Australian Group 1 runner-up Hveger, a daughter of Danehill, Highland Reel hails from a regal female family. His dam is a sibling to Australian champions Elvstroem and Haradasun.
Highland Reel is still improving and appears to have a bright future, indeed. American fans would love to see him return this fall for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland, but he’s expected to point toward the October 24 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, Australia, which was captured last year by Adelaide, winner of the 2014 Secretariat for the same Coolmore connections.
Highland Reel winning easily in the driving rain photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos