Godolphin Stable’s 3-year-old Sara Louise, making her first start since a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, headlines a field of nine for the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares going one mile Nov. 27 at Aqueduct.
Sara Louise’s only other race at a mile was the 2008 Pocahontas (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, which she won by 3 3/4 lengths over Rachel Alexandra
. This victory earned Sara Louise the distinction of being the last horse to defeat the exceptional filly, who went on to beat Sara Louise in her next start, kicking off a nine-race win streak.
The Top Flight start will mark Sara Louise’s fourth and final race of 2009. Her lone win came in the six-furlong Victory Ride (gr. III) at Saratoga back in August. She will break from post 8 with Edgar Prado aboard as the 118-pound highweight and 6-5 morning line favorite. Sara Louise will run as an entry with Skylighter, trained by Graham Motion for Darley Stable, who was disqualified from first and placed second for interference in her most recent start, an allowance contest at Laurel Park on Oct. 31.
“Facing two fillies who are specialists over synthetic surfaces and at seven furlongs (1-2 finishers Informed Decision and Ventura), I thought it was a very good effort for a lightly raced 3-year-old,” Godolphin assistant Rick Mettee said of Sara Louise’s Breeders’ Cup. “I think the one-turn mile should be a good race for her, though. She came from California and worked well here and she should get a good pace.”
Two other fillies will make not only their last starts of the year, but also of their careers.
Edward P. Evans’ Spritely
, a 4-year-old daughter of Touch Gold
, exits a win in the Quick Mischief Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 1. In 15 starts, she has finished worse than third only once, running ninth in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) in December 2007.
“She’s been a very consistent, good filly for us and this is her last race before she goes to the breeding shed, so we’re hopeful she’ll go out on a good note,” said trainer Todd Pletcher.
The same can be said of Johanna Murphy-Leopoldsberger’s Porte Bonheur
, a 4-year-old Hennessy
filly with a 6-1-4 record from 15 lifetime starts. She exits a pair of third-place finishes in the Ontario Fashion Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 1 and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland on Oct. 10. A sprint specialist, the Top Flight will be her first attempt at a mile.
“We’ve won at six furlongs and at seven, so now we’ll see if we can win at a mile,” said trainer David Duggan. “Anytime you find yourself around a horse who can run this consistently for as long as she has, it’s special. She’s held herself together in some very good company.”
Making her first start for trainer Bill Mott is West Point Thoroughbreds' and Lakland Farm’s Justwhistledixie
, who has not raced since a second-place effort behind Gabby’s Golden Gal in the Acorn (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 6.
Prior to that defeat, Justwhistledixie had won five straight, including a pair of grade II’s at Gulfstream Park, the Bonnie Miss and the Davona Dale, while under the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The 5-2 morning line second choice at 117 pounds, Justwhistledixie gets the services of jockey Jose Lezcano.
Rounding out the field are Cuvee Uncorked
, who exits a win in the Poker Night Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 1; Granted Tiger
, coming out of a fourth-place finish in allowance company; Weathered
, second in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) at aqueduct last month; and What a Pear
, who finished seventh in the Iroquois Stakes on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park Oct. 24 after stumbling at the break.
$150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 3:38 p.m.), Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Skylighter (KY), R A Dominguez, 115, H G Motion
2. Granted Tiger (FL), A R Napravnik, 112, H A Jerkens
3. What a Pear (NY), R D Fuentes, 109, J G Parker
4. Weathered (NY), M J Luzzi, 114, K M Grusmark
5. Cuvee Uncorked (KY), J Shepherd, 114, T G Walters
6. Spritely (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher
7. Porte Bonheur (KY), C Hill, 116, D P Duggan
8. Sara Louise (KY), E S Prado, 118, S bin Suroor
9. Justwhistledixie (KY), J Lezcano, 117, W I Mott
Coupled Entries--Skylighter, Sara Louise