House Rules won the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 21.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

House Rules won the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 21.
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Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

House Rules, Joint Return Clash in Top Flight

Two fillies with graded stakes credentials face seven others in 1 1/8-mile test/

There was a time when the Top Flight Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack was one of the most prestigious filly and mare stakes in the country, but like many of the old stakes still remaining on the schedule, it no longer draws the top older females in America.

Although nine were entered in this year’s Top Flight, only oneJoseph Shields Jr.’s House Rulesis a graded stakes winner. The 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor , trained by Jimmy Jerkens, captured the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 21 and was second in the Royal Delta Stakes (gr. II) in her last start March 21.


House Rules’ main competition should come from Main Line Racing Stable’s Joint Return, even though the daughter of Include  has not run since finishing sixth in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) at Parx Racing Sept. 20. But prior to that effort, the John Servis-trained 4-year-old was a fast-closing second in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Delaware Oaks (gr. II).


Joint Return had been working at Palm Meadows Training Center this winter, but returned to Servis’ barn at Parx in late March, where she worked a mile in 1:44 2/5 breezing.


House Rules, formerly trained by the late Allen Jerkens, was turned over to Jimmy at Saratoga Race Course last August, winning an allowance race by 6 1/2 lengths in her first start for the younger Jerkens. A poor race in the Cotillion was followed by a six-length score in allowance company at Aqueduct Racetrack. That was followed by another poor effort in the Comely Stakes (gr. III) before she headed back to Florida, where she strung together three positive performances.


Junior Alvarado gets the mount in the Top Flight and will break from post 2, with Joint Return, under Kendrick Carmouche, right alongside in post 3. House Rules will carry topweight of 120 pounds and concede two to eight pounds to her rivals.


After these top two, the number of proven stakes fillies are few and far between, although the Todd Pletcher-trained Got Lucky has had her moments, placing in last year’s Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III), and finishing fifth in the Alabama. Luis Saez has the mount on the daughter of A.P. Indy.


Another graded stakes-placed filly, Shayjolie, second in last year’s Comely and a winner of the recent Cat Cay Stakes at Aqueduct, could be dangerous in here with Cornelio Velasquez aboard.


Claudio Gonzalez sends out Before You Know It, winner of an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in her last start. In her other two starts this year, the daughter of Hard Spun  was fifith in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) and second in the Nellie Morse Stakes, both at Laurel Park 


There should be plenty of early speed in the Top Flight, but they all may have to catch Amulay, a four-length gate-to-wire winner of an allowance/optional claimer in her last start for Bruce Levine. Holiday's Jewel is not a speed horse, but nearly pulled off a front-running victory in the Cat Cay, leading all the way, but failing to hold off Shayjolie.


Entries: Top Flight H. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 11, 2015, Race 8

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:57 PM (local)
11Amulay (KY)Jose L. Ortiz114Bruce N. Levine-
22House Rules (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJunior Alvarado120James A. Jerkens-
33Joint Return (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKendrick Carmouche118John C. Servis-
44Got Lucky (KY)Luis Saez116Todd A. Pletcher-
55Agawa (ON)Taylor B. Rice112Chris J. Englehart-
66Shayjolie (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCornelio H. Velasquez116Gary C. Contessa-
77Holiday's Jewel (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateWilmer A. Garcia115Mitchell E. Friedman-
88Before You Know It (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco115Claudio A. Gonzalez-
99Jcs American Dream (NY)Angel S. Arroyo112William H. Turner, Jr.-