Atelier, a solid fourth last out in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), will carry high weight into the grade II, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap Friday at Aqueduct. A good field of nine will face the starter.
A homebred for Helen Alexander, Atelier loves the Big A, having scored in the grade III Next Move there in March, and the grade III Turnback the Alarm a year ago. Atelier made a sweeping move in the Distaff at 53-1 and ended up just 1 1/2 lengths behind winner Unbridled Elaine, missing the show spot by a nose to Two Item Limit.
Shug McGaughey will saddle that one along with Cat Cay for the Top Flight. Ogden Phipps' Cat Cay turned in a monstrous performance last out in annexing the Thoroughbred Club of America by 7 1/2 lengths Oct. 21 at Keeneland. The daughter of Pleasant Colony scorched the six furlongs in 1:09 1/5. McGaughey won the 1994 running of the Top Flight with Educated Risk.
Trainer Todd Pletcher also sends a pair into the Top Flight, running Anstu Stable's Tugger and the New York-bred Maddie May, owned by So Madcapt Stable. Tugger should be forwardly placed and will try to win the one-mile contest from the front.
Bohemia Stable's Shiny Band has taken down four allowance contests this year, and she steps up for trainer Allen Jerkins following a third in the grade III Honeybee at the Meadowlands Nov. 2.
The Top Flight Handicap field, in post position order with jockeys and weights: Zonk (Richard Migliore, 113); Shiny Band (Jose Espinoza, 112); Latour (Javier Castellano, 114); Tugger (Jose Velez Jr., 116); A.O.L. Hayes (Eibar Coa, 114); Atelier (Edgar Prado, 120); Cat Cay (John Velzquez, 117); Maddie May (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 113); Arty'svirginiagirl (Jose Santos, 112).