Of course, it helps when you have the kind of money the Phipps family does to spend on the best available to augment their already-strong broodmare band. The $675,000 laid out for their newest star, Fly So High, at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale was not exactly chump change. Two recent developments make the big daughter of Malibu Moon look a bargain at the price, however. First, her already-glittering family took another step up when Gun Runner---a grandson of Quiet Dance, also the dam of 2005 American Horse of the Year Saint Liam and a full sister to Fly So High's dam Quiet Flight---was crowned the 2017 American Horse of the Year. Second, Fly So High, now the winner of three straight, turned in what is arguably the most impressive performance so far this year among possible Kentucky Oaks (USA-I) contenders in winning the Davona Dale Stakes (USA-II) on March 3. While the final time of 1:38.69 was not fast, Gulfstream is often not a particularly glib track in the late winter, and the big filly overcame a very wide trip to get the job done by three widening lengths.
The filly's connections got a scare when Fly So High was vanned off after the race, and undoubtedly are heaving sighs of relief now that the vet reports have come back clean. Whether Fly So High makes the Oaks or not is still up in the air, of course; Shug McGaughey has the luxury of training for a program well known for not pushing a horse to make any particular race, and his new star will get all the time she needs to grow into her big frame and signal that she is ready for another strong effort. And even if she never starts again, the bloodlines and record she will bring to the breeding shed are more than enough for her connections to consider her purchase price as money well spent.