Highland Grace looks to become third generation graded stakes winner for Young in G3 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks | NYRA
Sep 15, 2023
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Highland Grace looks to become third generation graded stakes winner for Young in G3 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks

by Keith McCalmont

  • Highland Grace looks to become third generation graded stakes winner for Young in G3 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks
  • Quarrel stretches out for G3 Jockey Club Oaks
  • Eternal Hope hoping to add to potentially lucrative Saturday for Appleby
  • Impressive maiden winner Memorialize likely for G2 Miss Grillo
  • Belmont at the Big A Week 2 stakes probables

Thoroughbred owner and breeder Bonner Young is hopeful that dual winner Highland Grace can add more prosperity to a highly productive family line in Saturday’s Grade 3, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks going 11 furlongs at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Barclay Tagg, Highland Grace started out 0-for-4 through the maiden ranks before stretching out to the Jockey Club Oaks distance on June 3 over Belmont Park’s inner turf to graduate at fifth asking. The sophomore daughter of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah doubled up by defeating winners going 10 furlongs on July 4 over yielding Belmont inner turf under Flavien Prat.

Highland Grace, a fifth generation homebred, is out of Young’s graded stakes winner Caroline Thomas, who was elevated to first in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course in 2013 before finishing a close third in that year’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Highland Grace’s granddam is three-time graded stakes winner Bit of Whimsy, whose sophomore season in 2007 saw triumphs in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup as well as the Grade 3 Sands Point at Belmont Park and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs. Her third dam is Kristi B, who also produced graded stakes placed and black type producer Kristi With a K.

“I have had this family for 43 years and Barclay has trained everything on the page at one point in time,” Young said. “She is a big filly like Bit of Whimsy was. She doesn’t have Bit of Whimsy’s disposition, she’s more like Caroline Thomas in that. She’s laid back like American Pharoah was. He was kind and gentle around people and that’s how she is.”

Although Highland Grace won over yielding going last out, Young said she is hopeful for firm turf in Saturday’s race.

“She’s got a kick if it’s a hard turf,” Young said. “In the last race she was struggling on the rail and Flavien [Prat] got her out into the middle of the course, that’s when she took off. I’m hoping that it won’t rain tonight.”

Highland Grace has a 2-year-old full-sister named Katherine Thomas, who made her debut over the Saratoga inner turf in July to finish fifth going 1 1/16 miles.

“Her baby sister Katherine Thomas is actually more like Bit of Whimsy. She’s a 2-year-old and I’m hoping she runs at the end of this month. We’re aiming for that with her," said Young.

Young currently owns two active broodmares – Caroline Thomas and stakes-winner Highland Glory, a daughter of Young’s now retired broodmare Kristi With a K. She boards her mares at Hinkle Farm in Paris, Kentucky.

Caroline Thomas is in foal to second crop sire Bolt d’Oro, while Highland Glory is in foal to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.

“I’m trying to breed a turf champion for Barclay, I’ve been trying forever,” Young said. “We’ve had some really nice horses out of this family. I’m lucky because they’re born and raised at Tom Hinkle’s Farm. I bought my first horse from him in 1980 and I’ve been part of the Hinkle family ever since. He’s a wonderful horseman and they do a fabulous job at his farm.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pick up the mount aboard Highland Grace, who will break from post 5 at 5-1 morning line odds.


Quarrel stretches out for G3 Jockey Club Oaks

Trainer Bobby Ribaudo believes the best has yet to be seen from Marc Keller’s homebred Quarrel, who will stretch out to 1 3/8 miles for Saturday’s Grade 3, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks Invitational for sophomore fillies over the inner turf at Belmont at the Big A.

The Speightstown chestnut was last seen posting a gate-to-wire allowance score against elders on September 1 going 1 1/16 miles over a good Saratoga Race Course inner turf. She held a three-length lead at the stretch call with stakes-placed Swoop to Finish launching a late surge in the final furlong, but held on to win by one length while recording a career-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

Quarrel broke her maiden at third asking going 1 1/16 miles in November at Aqueduct after making her first two starts in off-the-turf maiden events going six furlongs at Belmont at the Big A. She made her graded stakes debut in her first start of the season when fourth beaten five lengths in Belmont’s Grade 3 Soaring Softly in May going seven furlongs before stretching back out to 1 1/16 miles and finishing a close fifth in allowance company at the same oval. She made her Saratoga debut when contesting an off-the-turf allowance optional claimer going one mile, where she finished a distant third as the favorite.

“Earlier in the year, we had a hard time finding spots for her. We started off in a 3-year-old stakes for fillies going seven-eighths and then we ran back in the allowance race going short,” Ribaudo recalled. “She came to Saratoga doing really well. We entered for the first week and it came off the turf. We ran anyway, she ran a dismal race. We finally got her in a 3-year-olds and up allowance race. We put the blinkers on her in her first race at Saratoga, but we didn’t get to see the best of her because it was off the turf. We waited for the next one – off the turf. We scratched out of that one. She impressed me in the race on the grass so, in reality, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet. Next year, I think she’ll be better. The race at Saratoga puts me in a good spot, I think.”

Ribaudo considered today’s Winter Memories for Quarrel, but ultimately decided to take a shot in the Jockey Club Oaks, where she will face European shipper and odds-on morning line favorite Eternal Hope.

Quarrel is a half-sister to Daunt, who defeated winners going the Jockey Club Oaks distance in October at Belmont at the Big A and finished fourth in this summer’s Grade 2 Bowling Green on July 30 and the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 26, both at Saratoga. Both Quarrel and Daunt are out of the graded stakes-placed Artie Schiller mare Promotional.

Ribaudo said Quarrel’s pedigree gives him confidence that the Jockey Club Oaks distance will not be out of reach.

“We looked at the Winter Memories and it overfilled so we didn’t go in. We knew the top couple that were going in this race and my options were the two-other than allowance race for three and up, which isn’t an easy race. So, we figured before the year is out, we needed to run one or two more times,” Ribaudo said. “We had a choice between a few 3-year-old filly stakes coming up and this wasn’t one of the ones we were thinking about. But the race came up a little light and she’s a half-sister to Daunt, the mother was a mile and three eighths and mile and a half specialist. Her numbers are pretty much on par with the rest of the field, she’s doing well and she came out of her last race really well.”

Ribaudo said Quarrel appears to be following a similar trajectory as her older half-brother.

“In the fall, Daunt won an allowance race and just got beat in the Red Smith. He’s been a nice horse this year for us and I think this filly is on the same path,” said Ribaudo. “The mother didn’t get started until the middle of her 3-year-old season and had a better year as a 4-year-old. Speightstown progeny usually take a year or two more than the average horse to come around to their prime. Both are very sound horses.”

Ribaudo said Daunt, a 4-year-old son of Nyquist, is pointing towards a return to the Grade 2, $300,000 Red Smith on November 11 at Aqueduct. He finished fourth at 68-1 odds in last year’s running of the 1 3/8-mile test.

“He’ll run in an allowance with the Red Smith being the goal again. I still think at five and six, he can be a really good horse,” Ribaudo said. “You see these turf races with horses eight and nine years old running at top form. I’ve had some good grass horses earlier on that if they stay sound, they can run forever. He’ll be five next year and he may just be getting to his full prime. We won’t overdo it, but we’ll give him a couple more starts next year and come back. Hopefully, this filly can follow in his footsteps.”


Eternal Hope hoping to add to potentially lucrative Saturday for Appleby

Trainer Charlie Appleby will send out Godolphin’s Irish homebred Eternal Hope in Saturday’s Grade 3, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, a 1 3/8-mile inner turf test for sophomore fillies, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Jockey Club Oaks is the final leg of the Fasig-Tipton Fillies Turf Triple series, which began with Aspen Grove’s victory in the 10-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 8 at Belmont Park and saw Elusive Princess capture the middle leg in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course.

Appleby could be in for a bumper day should Eternal Hope, the even-money morning-line favorite, oblige in the Race 9 feature at 5:21 p.m. Eastern as the England-based conditioner will also be represented in Grade 1s at Woodbine by Dazzling Star in the Natalma [Race 8, 5:07 p.m.] and Master of the Seas in the Woodbine Mile [Race 9, 5:42 p.m.].

“The races in Canada bookend our race at Aqueduct, so we'll be trying to follow the coverage from Woodbine as best we can,” said Appleby’s travelling assistant Chris Connett, with a laugh.

Eternal Hope, a Teofilo chestnut, captured the 12-furlong Oaks Trial over the Lingfield synthetic in May ahead of a distant seventh in the Group 1 Epsom Oaks in June. She enters from a good third-place finish in the 10-furlong Group 2 Prix Alec Head over soft going on August 20 at Deauville, finishing 1 1/2-lengths back of the victorious Group 1-winner Jannah Rose. The runner-up of that event, Lumiere Rock, came back to win the Group 2 Blandford on Sunday at The Curragh.

"It was nice to get back to that kind of performance with her off of the Oaks run. She's a tough filly,” Connett said. “All credit last out to the winner and the second - who came back to frank the form - they're good fillies and if she runs to the level again, she should take all the beating.

“She's not an overly imposing filly, but she's well put together,” added Connett. “I know the team thinks a lot of her and when she stepped up and won the Oaks Trial at Lingfield, it wasn't a surprise.”

Eternal Hope arrived in New York on Sunday and was able to train at Belmont Park on Wednesday before blowing out down the lane on Thursday over Big Sandy with exercise rider Rob Challis aboard.

"It was just our typical blowout. A regular canter and then quicken up for two furlongs down the lane to let her stretch her legs a little,” Connett said.

Jamie Spencer, who guided Godolphin’s Yibir to victory in the 2021 Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont Park for Appleby, will have the call aboard Eternal Hope from post 6 in the seven-horse field.

“He's a world class jockey and we're fortunate to have him come out. It's a vote of confidence to the filly,” Connett said.

Eternal Hope is out of the Dubawi mare Voice of Truth, who is a half-sister to multiple group-winner and sire Rio de La Plata.


Impressive maiden winner Memorialize likely for G2 Miss Grillo

Gainseway Stable’s Kentucky homebred Memorialize is possible for the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo on October 1 at Belmont at the Big A off an eye-catching graduation at second asking on August 20 at Saratoga Race Course for trainer Graham Motion.

The Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile turf route for juvenile fillies, offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3 at Santa Anita Park. Motion seeks his second Miss Grillo victory after sending out Tin Type Gal nose score in 2015.

Memorialize, a daughter of Karakontie, finished second in her July 20 debut at Colonial Downs where she was unsettled at the start and missed the break to race in last-of-9 through the first three-eighths of the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint. She made up ground impressively in deep stretch to land place honors by a nose and 2 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Zo Lee, who exited that effort to win an optional claiming event at Colonial.

“I was surprised with that first race,” said Motion. “It was pretty extraordinary what she did. I think she showed that wasn’t just luck in her next start. I really wasn’t expecting her performances. She’s always worked OK in the mornings, but never anything that had me jumping up and down.”

The chestnut filly stretched out considerably in her next outing and showed similar off-the-pace tactics under Manny Franco, charging home late from as far as 6 1/4 lengths back to draw clear at the top of the stretch and post a three-length score at odds of 6-1. The effort garnered a 71 Beyer Speed Figure, a 24-point improvement from her debut.

“She’s been training super,” said Motion. “I was a little surprised she went off at the price she did. Since she ran that first time, she’s a different horse. That’s often what happens with 2-year-old, they kind of figure it out. She’s grown a lot, but she is still learning, no doubt about that.”

Memorialize had her first work back on September 10 over the Fair Hill synthetic, covering five-eighths in 1:02. She is the first named foal produced from the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Smart Emma, a half-sister to Japanese stakes-winner and earner of over $800,000 Symboli Empire.


Belmont at the Big A Week 2 stakes probables

Friday, September 22

$125K John Hettinger (NYB)

Probable: New Ginya (Christophe Clement), Out of Sight (David Donk), Runaway Rumour (Linda Rice), Saratoga Chrome (Bruce Brown), Whatlovelookslike (Todd Pletcher)

Saturday, September 23

G3 Noble Damsel

Probable: Fluffy Socks (Chad Brown), Malavath (Clement), Veronica Greene (C. Brown)

$125K Ashley T. Cole (NYB)

Probable: Barrage (Ray Handal), Born Dancer (Michelle Nevin), City Man (Clement), Jerry the Nipper (Pletcher), Spirit of St Louis (C. Brown)

Sunday, September 24

$125K Bertram F. Bongard (NYB)

Probable: Bonne Chance (Bruce Levine), Detective Tom (Steve Asmussen), El Grande O (Rice), Ranger Blue (Mark Tasso), Skyler’s Starship (John Terranova), Trust Fund (Pletcher)

Possible: Antonio of Venice (Rudy Rodriguez)

$125K Joseph A. Gimma (NYB)

Probable: Caldwell Luvs Gold (Brad Cox), Lady Arwen (Jeremiah Englehart), Miss d’Or Cherie (Clement), My Shea D Lady (Carlos David)

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