04/09/2017 5:16PM

Highway Star confirms affinity for main track in Distaff Handicap

Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Highway Star is now 3 for 3 over Aqueduct's main track after winning the Distaff Handicap by a half-length under Angel Arroyo.

Handicappers who subscribe to the horses-for-courses angle should have had a good day at Aqueduct Sunday as horses who excel at the Big A swept the two stakes on the nine-race program. And, neither one was the favorite.

Highway Star, who despite having to go seven wide in the stretch, ran down Indulgent to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap by a half-length. She is now 3 for 3 over Aqueduct’s main track.

Later on the card, Macagone went gate to wire under Kendrick Carmouche to win the $100,000 Danger’s Hour Stakes, the first turf race of the year in New York. Macagone is now 4 for 5 over the Aqueduct turf, including a win in this race last year.

In the Distaff, Highway Star saved ground in third under Angel Arroyo, about two lengths behind Kelsocait, who ran an opening quarter-mile in 22.46 seconds and a half-mile in 45.16 while stalked intently by Clipthecouponannie.

Arroyo stayed put on Highway Star as Indulgent came to her outside. Clipthecouponannie took the lead in upper stretch and had Indulgent bearing down on here. Indulgent took over inside the eighth pole, but Highway Star swung widest of all in the stretch, kept plugging away, and nailed Indulgent late.

“I broke and got a good trip and stayed behind the speed,” Arroyo said. “In the stretch, when she switched leads she went great.”

Last fall, she won the Grade 3 Go for Wand and a division of the New York Stallion Stakes in a three-week span over the main track.

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“She likes the outer track better than the inner track,” trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said.

Highway Star had not run since finishing a distant fourth in the Ladies over the inner track in January. She was entered in the Heavenly Prize Invitational at Aqueduct on March 4, but scratched after coming down with a case of pharyngitis.

Highway Star, a 4-year-old daughter of Girolamo owned and bred by Chester and Mary Broman, covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.25 and returned $12.60 to win.

Ubillo believes a one-turn mile is actually Highway Star’s best game and she will be pointed to the Grade 2 Ruffian, a one-turn mile race, at Belmont Park on May 14. Highway Star is 2 for 2 going a one-turn mile at Belmont.

In the Danger’s Hour, Carmouche pushed Macagone to the front entering the first turn and the 6-year-old gelding maintained a clear advantage through fractions of 23.40 seconds, 46.79, and 1:10.62, and came home a mile in 1:36.13  over a yielding turf course while besting even-money favorite Catapult by 1 1/2 lengths.

Catapult was three wide and in fourth down the backside, made a move into second around the turn, but was no match for Macagone while finishing 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Cage Fighter. Gold Shield, Eirigh, Il Sigreto, and Edge of Reality completed the order of finish.

Macagone, owned by Tom Egan’s Trinity Farm and trained by Bill Mott, returned $7.60 as the second choice.

“He loves Aqueduct,” said Leana Willaford, assistant to Mott. “There was a nice little cut in the ground and the plan was to go the lead from the start.”