Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) runner-up It's Tricky will launch her 4-year-old campaign against five rivals in the $200,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) March 3 at Aqueduct.
Toting top weight of 122 pounds while pegged as the 1-4 morning-line favorite, Godolphin Racing’s It’s Tricky seeks her first win since back-to-back grade I scores in the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks in New York last summer. She ended her season with three runner-up efforts, including the BC Ladies Classic when beaten 2 1/2 lengths by eventual champion Royal Delta.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has assigned Ramon Dominguez to ride the daughter of Mineshaft in the 1 1/16-mile event. They drew post 5.
It’s Tricky spent most of the winter at Palm Meadows in South Florida, but was shipped to New York last week. She completed her final preparations for the Top Flight at Belmont Park, breezing four furlongs in :48 3/5 Feb. 26.
“She’s training real well,” said McLaughlin. "I hope she maintains that grade I status. She won two last year, and it’s hard to maintain that. We expect her to be in the top five in her class. Hopefully, it works out well for us.”
The bay filly is 5-3-0 from nine starts with earnings of more than $1 million. She began her career with three consecutive victories, all at Aqueduct.
If It’s Tricky is challenged, it could be by Green Hills Farm’s Love and Pride, who rolled to a wire-to-wire seven-length win in her season debut Jan. 28 at Aqueduct. That came in the Affectionately Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and snapped a four-race losing streak.
Earlier in her 3-year-old season, Love and Pride won the listed Proud Spell Stakes at Saratoga and was third to undefeated Awesome Feather in the grade I Gazelle Stakes. Todd Pletcher, who won this event in 2007 and 2008, trains the A.P. Indy filly. Cornelio Velasquez will have the mount.
“With this filly, any time she can be controlling speed is to her benefit,” said Pletcher’s assistant Michael McCarthy. “Pace scenario is big for her; if she can get away with :47 and change or :48 and change, it’s good for her.
“You go back to the (past performances) and she’s given us a taste that she can step it up to the next level. She’s won a few races off layoffs and she’s done it in spectacular fashion. Then she’s tried to take the next step and hasn’t been able to do it. She’s doing as good as she’s ever done, and it’s time to put up or shut up. She’s brought her ‘A’ game a few times, and in the better races like this she just has never put it all together.”
Trainer Mark Casse will send out 4-year-old Delightful Mary, a daughter of Limehouse. She has started twice already this year, recording a victory in a restricted stakes race Jan. 8 at Gulfstream, and then a strong, second-place finish behind Awesome Feather in the Sunshine Millions Distaff Jan. 28. In that race, Delightful Mary made a bid to catch Awesome Feather at the quarter pole but was no match.
“She kind of made a big move and looked like she would be there,” Casse said. “Luis (Contreras) decided to go inside and at the top of the lane and lost his momentum for a second, and then angled back out and it cost him a length or two, but I don’t think it cost him the race. The thing I thought was encouraging about the race is she could have given up and finished third. I was happy she won that battle. We had some questions whether she could go that far (1 1/8 miles).”
$200,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II, Race 5, 2:42 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Inner dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Coco Ecolo (KY), E Trujillo, 113, K J Breen, 20-1
2. Delightful Mary (FL), L Contreras, 116, M E Casse, 20-1
3. Sleepless Dixie (KY), R Curatolo, 114, K J Breen, 4-1
4. Bahama Bound (KY), J R Velazquez, 114, A W Dutrow, 15-1
5. It's Tricky (KY), R A Dominguez, 122, K P McLaughlin, 1-4
6. Love and Pride (KY), C H Velasquez, 116, T A Pletcher, 6-1 Coupled entry: Coco Ecolo, Sleepless Dixie