Sara Louise Popular Winner in Top Flight 'Cap
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 11/27/2009 4:33:33 PM
Last Updated: 11/28/2009 2:45:44 PM
Sara Louise holds off Justwhistledixie to win the Top Flight.
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Sara Louise, wheeling back in three weeks following a fourth-place showing in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), held off Justwhistledixie in the final furlong Nov. 27 to win the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) as the odds-on favorite at Aqueduct.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, Sara Louise wore down a stubborn Spritely approaching the furlong pole while three wide and dug in to defeat second choice Justwhistledixie by a half-length. She completed the one-turn mile in 1:38.94 over a fast main track.
It was not an easy race for Sara Louise, who labored through the homestretch after getting the lead. But she prevailed with Prado showing her the whip the final sixteenth. Godolphin's winning 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon --Kings Lynn, by Mt. Livermore, logged her second win in four starts this year for trainer Saeed bin Suroor after capturing the six-furlong Victory Ride (gr. III) over a sloppy Saratoga strip Aug. 29.
"At about the fifth-eighths pole there were four horses across the track and I was kind of concerned then," Prado said. "But we picked up the tempo a little bit and I was able to be three wide instead of four or five wide. She’s not real crazy about the whip, so I just let her see (Justwhistledixie) next to her and she did the rest of it. She was very game. The other horse wasn’t getting by, not today anyway.”
In her last start, Sara Louise finished a non-threatening fourth with Frankie Dettori in the irons over Santa Anita's synthetic track in the Breeders' Cup Nov. 6. She was five lengths behind the victorious Informed Decision.
"She’s a good fighter," bin Suroor said. "I think the ground was different for her in the Breeders’ Cup." Suroor said Sara Louise will race in the United States next year at 4.
Justwhistledixie, with Jose Lezcano aboard, turned in an encouraging effort in her first race since finishing second June 6 in Belmont Park's Acorn (gr. I). The 3-year-old Dixie Union filly closed with interest while five paths wide on the turn to challenge at the eighth pole, but could not get to even terms with Sara Louise.
Cuvee Uncorked, who along with Spritely pressed a moderate pace established by Weathered, nosed Porte Bonheur for the show spot after being trapped behind horses in the stretch run. She finished 3 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up. Granted Tiger was a nose farther behind in fifth, followed by Spritely, Skylighter, Weathered and What a Pear.
Quarter-mile fractions for the Top Flight were :23.92, :47.56, and 1:12.75.
Bred in Kentucky by Paul F. Gardner, the lightly-raced Sara Louise won for the fourth time in eight tries while boosting her earnings to $380,935 with the winner's share of $90,000. The last horse to defeat Rachel Alexandra, the bay filly brought $550,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Florida sale in February 2008.
Sara Louise, part of a coupled entry with Darley's Skylighter, carried top weight of 118 pounds and paid $3.40, $2.20, and $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $9.50.
Justwhistledixie, a two-time grade II winner at Gulfstream Park this spring prior to her Acorn effort, returned $3.10 and $2.80 in her first start for trainer Bill Mott. The West Point Thoroughbreds' filly was previously with Kiaran McLaughlin.
“Coming off the long layoff, it was a good effort," Mott said. "We’re happy with her performance.”
Cuvee Uncorked, ridden by Justin Sheppard, paid $4.10 to show.
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