By Brain Bohl & Najja Thompson —-
Get Jets, Fourstar Crook win state-bred stakes on Sunday’s card
ELMONT, N.Y. – Chester and Mary Broman’s Highway Star overtook even-money favorite Carina Mia in deep stretch and outkicked her rival by a neck to win the 24th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up Sunday at Belmont Park.
Highway Star, cutting back to 6 ½ furlongs, stayed off Lucy N Ethel’s early fractions of 22.59 seconds for a quarter-mile with a half going in 45.94. Out of the turn, Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano took the lead aboard Carina Mia. But Highway Star and jockey Luis Saez surged from the outside to take the lead in the final furlong and also fended off Quezon’s challenge from along the rail to lead Highway Star to her first victory since the Grade 2 Ruffian on May 13 at Belmont.
“They told me to break and see how I was and go from there and see what happens,” said Saez, who took over the mount with Angel Arroyo injured. “I was a little worried because I had the one-hole and I knew everyone was going to come down and we’d be stuck down [on the rail]. As soon as I got the opportunity, I came out and followed the filly for Javier. When we came into the stretch, she took off.”
Highway Star won for the third time in five starts – all graded stakes appearances – and earned a return trip to the winner’s circle in hitting the wire in 1:16.91. The 4-year-old New York bred, who was second by a head to By the Moon last out in the Grade 1 Ballerina on August 26 at Saratoga and third in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 10, is 5-0-1 in six career starts on Big Sandy for trainer Rodrigo Ubillo.
“She broke good and then something happened on the backside so she fell back a little bit farther back than I wanted her to,” said Ubillo, who added that Highway Star could next target the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on November 4 at Del Mar. “Luis then took her to the outside and she made a little ground and 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,” he 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.”
Off at 2-1, Highway Star paid $6.20 on a $2 win wager. She nearly became a millionaire with the win, improving her total earnings to $969,000.
Carina Mia, who finished third behind Highway Star in the Ballerina and fourth in the Ogden Phipps, earned second-place honors to mark her best graded stakes finish since a runner-up performance in the 2016 Grade 1 Cotillion.
Quezon, for trainer Robert Ribaudo, was third.
Absatootly, Friend of Liberty and Lucy N Ethel completed the order of finish.
Sunday’s stakes action kicked off with Team D Stable’s Get Jets winning the 47th running of the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds 3-years-old and up.
Breaking from post 5 as the 4-5 post time favorite, Get Jets sat comfortably in fourth position under Hall of Famer John Velazquez as All Is Number led the field of six through fractions of 24.19 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 49.06.
As the field reached the quarter-pole, Get Jets, who was settled three-wide in the clear, shifted out five-wide in the upper stretch to take on the leader. Call Provision, who trailed throughout, was set into a drive, swinging out six-wide. Hooking up at the eighth-pole, the pair battled to the wire with Get Jets prevailing by a nose to secure the victory.
He completed the 1 1/8 miles distance in a final time of 1:47.74.
Returning $3.90 for a $2 win wager, the victory boosted the 4-year-old son of Scat Daddy’s career earnings to $525,850. Picking up his second consecutive stakes win after capturing the West Point on August 25 at Saratoga, trainer Tony Dutrow said he was thrilled with the performance.
“I thought Jets broke well,” Dutrow said. “On paper, it set up the way the race went. He settled some four or five lengths behind the speed of the race. Johnny was content to keep him in that position and he knew the horses behind him were going to be the competition, so he waited for them and when they made their move, Get Jets did as well. I’m very happy with his effort today.”
Following Call Provision was Kharafa for third. Cloontia, All Is Number and Pat On the Back completed the order of finish.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith’s Fourstar Crook ran down Tizelle and Barrel of Dreams in deep stretch to complete the day’s stakes action with a 3 ½- length victory in the ninth running of the $125,000 John Hettinger for state-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf.
Carded as Race 8, Fourstar Crook won for the ninth time in her last 10 starts dating to 2015, bouncing back from a second-place finish in the Yaddo on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course to post a final time of 1:46.05.
“I was a little concerned with the pace in front,” winning trainer Chad Brown said. “We were concerned as they were heading for home that she [Fourstar Crook] might not be able to reel them in, but she’s something else. She’s amazed me, she has a big strong kick and she got there in plenty of time. She’s been very consistent this year, we thought about trying her against open company a couple of starts back and now it’s time to try something big. We’ll think about wheeling her back in the [Grade 1] E.P. Taylor in three weeks and then calling it a year for her until next year.”
Off as the 3-5 favorite, Fourstar Crook paid $3.50 on a $2 win bet. The 5-year-old daughter of Freud won the John Hettinger for a second straight year, improving her career earnings to $649,050.
“It was kind of a funny race. I didn’t expect to be that way on paper,” said Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who has four wins and a runner-up effort in five starts aboard Fourstar Crook since 2016. “I was kind of concerned the horses in front spread the field and I had to use my filly a little more than I’m used to. I had started going by the half-mile pole and she had a good, strong kick. I’m very fortunate to be the pilot because no matter what you do she always shows up and gives you a consistent race. I really have to give credit to Chad and his team for how good she’s been this year.”
Tizzelle took second place while Ack Naughty was third. Barrel of Dreams, Feeling Bossy, Flipcup, Summersault, Jc’s Shooting Star and Bonita Springs completed the order of finish. Literata and Bonita Bianca were main-track only entrants and were scratched.