Highland Grace Looks To Become Third-Generation Graded Stakes Winner for Young in G3 Jockey Club Oaks

September 15, 2023

Highland Grace victorious in an allowance July 4 at Belmont Park (NYRA/Coglianese)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— 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.

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