Highland Falls continues rise with G3 Blame Stakes success


Improving colt Highland Falls gained a first Graded Stakes success as he reeled in Cagliostro close home to take the G3 Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs, USA, on Saturday 1 June.

Second on his previous start in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, the Brad Cox-trained four-year-old showed good speed from the gates to race in third as Frosted Departure and Cagliostro battled for the early lead.

Trademark moved up to join Highland Falls after the first quarter-mile and the duo continued to dispute third until the Godolphin runner found more under pressure at the top of the home straight.

Cagliostro kicked on entering the final furlong but his advantage was eroded by Highland Falls, who closed relentlessly under Florent Geroux and surged by in the final strides to score by a length.

Brad Cox said: “Highland Falls is a typical Curlin, in that he gets better with age, and he has a beautiful pedigree. We have always thought that he would be a horse who would relish the Classic distance here in America.

“He put it all together going a mile and eighth today and looked like he will handle a mile and a quarter moving forward. Florent said he needs a mile and a half and he has a lot of stamina in his pedigree.

“We have First Mission zeroed in on the G1 Stephen Foster, so it’s very doubtful that Highland Falls will show up there. We will see how he comes out of this and how First Mission does over the next few weeks and go from there.”

Florent Geroux added: “Highland Falls was able to break very sharply, so I was able to put a little more pace in then I would have if he had broken less alertly. I challenged the front two a little going into the first turn and decided to ease him back a little bit.

“I kept my position and had to work harder than I would have liked but Highland Falls is a horse who keeps on coming all the time and didn’t have any problem whatsoever with the distance. I think the further he goes, the better he will be.”