Joseph Allen's overlooked Randaroo won her third straight graded stakes race since Kiaran McLaughlin assumed conditioning duties, taking the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Aqueduct Friday.
Ridden confidently by Herbert Castillo Jr., the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Gold Case, stalked pacesetting Beauty Halo on the outside, seized the lead at the top of the stretch and pulled away in the final furlong to win by two lengths. The time for the mile on a fast track was 1:36 2/5.
Beauty Halo was second by 3 1/4 lengths over Pocus Hocus.
Willa On the Move, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Edgar Prado, was 10th in the field of 12 after stalking the pace while wide.
The bay filly Randaroo was coming off a win over Shine Again in the seven-furlong First Flight (gr. II) at Belmont Park Oct. 25. In her first start after McLaughlin assumed the training duties from Anthony Dutrow, Randaroo won the six-furlong Safely Kept (gr. III) at Pimlico Oct. 4.
"Everything went perfect. She's improving all the time," McLaughlin said. "She came into this race super. Herbie (Heberto Castillo Jr., jockey) gave her a great ride. The question was whether she would get the mile, and she did. She's going to go to Florida and we'll even look at some races, possibly, in California. They have a straight four-year-old series, and one of them (the Malibu on Dec. 26) is a grade I."
She tracked Beauty Halo and Richard Migliore while alongside Shawklit Mint on the inside through fractions of : 23 1/5, :46 2/5 and 1:10 3/5. Castillo turned up the pressure coming out of the turn for home and soon edged away. Pocus Hocus, Mike Luzzi in the saddle, was the best of the rest, edging 50-1 Caught in the Rain by a neck for third after a troubled beginning.
"The question today was whether she could get a mile," Castillo said. "I always thought she could. She broke alertly and we had a perfect trip. When I called on her, she just exploded."
Purchased for $75,000 at Fasig-Tipton in July 2001, Randaroo improved to 6-3-0 in 11 starts. The $90,000 winning purse improved her career total to $441,680. Dennis Drazen bred the winner, who is out of the Valid Appeal mare Validated.
Carrying the co-top weight assignment of 116 pounds and sent off at odds of 9-1, Randaroo paid $20.40, $10.40 and $6.50. Beauty Halo returned $14 and $7.50. Pocus Hocus was $5/40 to show. The $2 exacta was worth $187 and the trifecta returned $1,461.
Shawklit Mint was fifth, followed by Zawzooth, Lights On, Sabre of Silver, Drexel Monorail, Willa On the Move, Artist Johanna and Miss Lodi.