Highway Star shines in Go for Wand Handicap

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Jen Caldwell

December 3rd, 2016

Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Highway Star rallied between rivals in Saturday’s $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct to score a nose victory in a photo finish over High Ridge Road and Wonder Gal.

The Rodrigo Ubillo-trained daughter of Girolamo ran four wide before being set down by jockey Angel Arroyo in the lane. Highway Star dug in to catch pacesetter Wonder Gal, who had set splits of :24.20, :47.67 and 1:12.83. She then held off High Ridge Road, who closed on her outside, to finish a mile on the fast main track in 1:38.07.

"My filly broke good," Arroyo said. "I put her on in stalking position and on the backside, we were clear and went through. I had her in good control in the stretch and she really responded. [She was] real strong. I'm excited for her future. She's good."

Highway Star paid $17.20 as the 7-1 fourth pick in the seven-distaffer field. High Ridge Road had a neck to spare on Wonder Gal, with 3-5 favorite Bar of Gold another 2 1/4 lengths back in fourth. Cayman Croc, Camille Claudel and Burn Control completed the order under the wire.

"The pace was too slow (early) and, I don't know what happened, but Angel was too far back (on the backside) with the pace and everything," Ubillo said. "I thought we were going to be third with a good pace but he was almost next to last at one point. (When the fractions came up,) we were a little bit concerned, but it worked out just fine."

Highway Star brought a two-race win streak in the Go for Wand, which was her graded debut. She broke her maiden at first asking on May 30 and then took a July 13 allowance, both at Belmont Park.

The three-year-old chestnut dead-heated for fourth in the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Stakes (NYSS) series on August 11 while trying turf for the first time then switched back to the main track for a third-place run in the Fleet Indian Stakes.

Both of those starts came at Saratoga, and Highway Star shipped back to Belmont Park when that meet ended to take an allowance/optional claimer on September 28 before earning her first stakes victory last out in the November 13 Staten Island division of the NYSS.

The New York-bred Highway Star faced open company for the first time in the Go for Wand and improved her record to 7-5-0-1, $369,000.

Ubillo gave every indication Highway Star could return to compete on Aqueduct's inner track this winter.

"I'm not afraid of the inner track, I think she will do just fine," he said. "Every time she runs, she just gets better and better; more feisty and more happy. I ride her myself (in the mornings) and she gives me a good energy. She's almost dropped me off like twice; she jumps and kicks, she's just happy. She likes her job."

Highway Star is the first registered stakes winner out of the multiple stakes-placed Cat Thief mare Stolen Star. That mare is a half-sister to stakes scorers Friend or Foe and Star Grazing. Highway Star’s fourth dam is multiple Grade 1 heroine Taisez Vous.

Highway Star photo courtesy of NYRA/Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography