Oceanic Steps Back Into G2 Highlander Spotlight

June 26, 2024

Oceanic (#6) and jockey Reylu Gutierrez finishing second in the Highlander Stakes on July 1, 2023. (Michael Burns Photo)

Matthew Lomon/Woodbine Communications

TORONTO— Oceanic, a multiple graded stakes-placed son of Constitution-Rockin Girl, will look to go one better than he did in last year’s bet365 Highlander when he finished second, by a half-length, to Lucky Score.  

Trained by Jordan Blair for Surfside Stables, LLC, 7-year-old Oceanic has compiled a 5-3-3 mark from 28 starts, to go along with $426,632 (U.S.) in earnings. 

“He’s a really cool horse,” said Blair. “I’d say he’s laid-back but he’s all business. He can be aggressive in the mornings and he likes his space in his stall, but he’s just playing, he’s not mean. Everybody that rides him in the morning and afternoon absolutely loves him. He’s got a nice way of going.”

The bay, who was seventh in last October’s Nearctic Stakes (G2T), returns to Woodbine in winning form.

In his first start of the year, Oceanic circled the field late to take a 5 ½-furlong allowance sprint over “good” ground at Keeneland on April 19.

“He loves Keeneland,” noted Blair. “We try to go back there every year.” 

Blair sees the E.P. Taylor course as an ideal fit for Oceanic. 

“We think he likes Woodbine’s turf course just as much as Keeneland’s. He ran so well over both last year, even on the yielding going and the second go-round. That’s a major factor as far as coming back up. He seems to really love that course.”

Bred in Kentucky by DP Racing LLC, Oceanic debuted with a second-place effort on April 1, 2020, in a six-furlong dirt race at Tampa Bay Downs. He broke his maiden in his seventh start, a 4 ½-length score at five panels over the Tampa Bay turf on January 17, 2021. 

His lone stakes victory came in last year’s Woodford Reserve Da Hoss Stakes. He was second in the Woodford Reserve (G2T) next time out and then contested the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T), finishing thirteenth to Caravel. 

Blair is hoping the third time at Woodbine is the charm, where his veteran campaigner can go from multiple graded stakes placed to graded stakes winner.

“For a while there, he was just a speed only, ‘catch me if you can’ type of horse, but he’s really changed every year that he’s gotten older, to relax off the pace and make one big run. We always thought he was a nice horse. There was a time where I had my doubts, and then as soon as we got him sprinting on the turf, it changed everything for him.

“He’s coming into this doing really well. We’ve taken a different approach this year than we have in years past now that he’s getting older. We’ve had a lot of years to learn about him. We’re spacing his races out. He seems to run very well off of freshening and training rather than more races. He’s been training excellent, so he’s coming in in really good shape.”

Mark Casse sends out the multiple graded stakes winner Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), and three-time winner Step Forward. Saffie Joseph, Jr. has a pair of hopefuls, multiple graded stakes placed County Final, and Saratoga Flash.

Sid Attard won three straight editions of the Highlander, with Signature Red in 2010 and 2011, and Smokey Fire in 2012. 

First post time is 1:10 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com and bet365.com.


Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer 

1 – Secret Reserve – Leo Salles – Mike Mattine

2 – County Final – Sofia Vives – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

3 – Oceanic – Reylu Gutierrez – Jordan Blair

4 – Saratoga Flash – Adam Beschizza – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

5 – Old Chestnut – Eswan Flores – Martin Drexler

6 – Filo Di Arianna (BRZ) – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse

7 – Hunt Master – Jeffrey Alderson – Angus Buntain

8 – Step Forward – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

9 – Witty – Rafael Hernandez – Elizabeth Merryman

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