December 4, 2022

Highway Star kicks off season in Barbara Fritchie

Highway Star holds on to win the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park with jockey Luis Saez aboard on Sunday, September 24, 2017 (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

One of the top female sprinters in the country last season despite throwing a dud in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Highway Star heads down the highway from her Belmont Park base on Saturday to top the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2), headline event of the stakes-laden Winter Carnival card at Laurel.

Victorious in the Gallant Bloom H. (G2), the Ruffian (G2) over Breeders’ Cup upsetter Bar of Gold, and Distaff H. (G3) last season, Highway Star also missed out on top-level glory by a head in the Ballerina (G1) last summer. However, despite the stellar credentials, she was not among the leading prospects in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, which was dominated by longshots. The New York-bred filly wound up 11th of 14 at odds of 18-1.

Rebounding effectively to finish a solid second in the one-mile Go for Wand H. (G3) on December 2, Highway Star figures as a prominent player in the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie with several pace elements in the field.

Ms Locust Point, who has won a pair of six-furlong stakes in wire-to-wire fashion this meet, looks the quickest out of the gate.

“She looks like a colt, and she’s got a pretty fast cruising speed,” trainer John Servis said. “She can cruise along pretty good and just do that in hand comfortably.”

Also likely to show some early foot is Divine Miss Grey, who inherited the lead and got the win in the $100,000 Interborough at Aqueduct last time.

Beaten less than a length by Highway Star in the Gallant Bloom, Quezon enters off consecutive Big A stakes wins. Berned rallied from off the pace to take the $100,000 Safely Kept in November, but steps up to take older fillies for the first time here. Moiety has only run one bad race in her 10-race career, in the Chilukki (G2) two back, but rebounded in a minor stakes at Mahoning Valley when last seen three months ago.

New York shippers also figure prominently in the $250,000 General George for older horses at seven furlongs. Great Stuff, upset winner of the Toboggan (G3), and $100,000 Gravesend scorer Do Share will face Awesome Banner, It’s the Journey, and Something Awesome, who were separated by less than a length at the end of the $100,000 Fire Plug at Laurel last month.

Here’s a rundown of the other stakes on the program:

$100,000 Miracle Wood — Still Having Fun, dominating winner of the $100,000 Frank Whiteley over Wentz and V. I. P. Code, will look to make it two in a row in this one-mile test for three-year-olds. Stakes winner He Hate Me is in from Florida, where he ran a distant second to World of Trouble in the $125,000 Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs.

$100,000 John B. Campbell — The versatile Afleet Willy might be the horse to catch in this historic nine-furlong test for older horses. The in-form Zanotti, last-out hero of the $125,000 Queens County at Aqueduct, is the main challenger.

$100,000 Maryland Racing Media — Cross-entered in the Barbara Fritchie, Bishop’s Pond might be a stronger fit for this about 1 1/16-mile heat. She has speed and the rail, with recent $100,000 Ladies H. heroine Just Got Out breaking to her immediate right.

$100,000 Wide Country — A field of seven three-year-old fillies will go seven furlongs here. The likely favorite is Last True Love, runner-up in the $100,000 Marshua three weeks ago.