Mandy's Gold will attempt to rebound off a fifth-place finish in the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) when she starts as the 120-pound highweight in Friday's $150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct.
Owned by Steeplechase Farms and trained by Mike Gorham, Mandy's Gold is the most accomplished horse and leading money earner in the nine-horse Top Flight field, but taking the Top Flight will not be a walk in the park.Challengers Alchemilla and Sightseek are up-and-coming fillies and Nasty Storm is a multiple stakes winner who upset a strong field in Belmont Park's Gallant Bloom (gr. II) in October.
Mandy's Gold, who drew post eight under jockey Aaron Gryder, will ship from her Delaware Park base to New York on Thanksgiving.
Stronach Stable's Nasty Storm was beaten by Mandy's Gold in a pair of starts -- the Honorable Miss and Ballerina -- at Saratoga this summer, but rebounded nicely when upsetting grade I sprint winners Raging Fever and Shine Again in the Gallant Bloom. Since, then, the 4-year-old daughter of Gulch has worked three times at Churchill Downs.
Nasty Storm will break from the one hole under jockey Rene Douglas.
The Bobby Frankel-trained Sightseek has only lost once in four starts and owns victories at Saratoga, Belmont, and Keeneland. Most recently Sightseek won the Raven Run Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. The Top Flight will be Sightseek's first start against older fillies and mares.
Sightseek is a half-sister to multiple grade I winner Tates Creek and will have Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey aboard for The Top Flight.
The field for Friday's Grade II Top Flight Handicap includes:
1 -- Nasty Storm (Rene Douglas, 116)
2 -- Ellie's Moment (Shaun Bridgmohan, 113)
3-- Zonk (C.C. Lopez, 116)
4 -- Willa on the Move (Jozbin Santana, 113)
5 -- Sparking Ava (Jean-Luc Samyn, 110)
6 -- Alchemilla (Javier Castellano, 112)
7 -- Sightseek (Jerry Bailey, 113)
8 -- Mandy's Gold (Aaron Gryder, 120)
9 -- Unrestrained (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 114)