After concluding her 2009 campaign with a half-length victory in the Top Flight, Sara Louise was on the sidelines until Sept. 25 when she made her belated 4-year-old debut with a fourth-place effort in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. She was most recently sixth in the Sentient Jets Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.
“She walked out of the gate in the Breeders’ Cup, and it certainly didn’t help how she spotted those fillies five lengths,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to Godolphin Racing’s trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. “She made a good mid-race move and, not surprisingly, got pretty tired.
"All in all it was pretty disappointing, but it was a 13-horse field and she broke five lengths behind everybody. We’re just going to draw a line through it. This a smaller field, so by default she should get a better trip.”
Sara Louise, the 119-pound co-highweight in the field of seven older fillies and mares, drew post 2 for the one-mile test. Edgar Prado, who rode Sara Louise in the 2009 Top Flight and in this year’s Gallant Bloom, is back aboard the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
Qualia (3-1), forced to bypass the Filly and Mare Sprint after failing to draw into the field, seeks her first graded stakes victory. She missed by a head when second in the Bed o’Roses Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont July 5. The 4-year-old was last in the Ballerina (gr. I) as the second choice at Saratoga Aug. 25, but only after her saddle slipped.
“Hopefully, she’ll run well,” said Bobby Ribaudo, who trains Qualia for Marc Keller. “You worry a bit about her being past (her) peak as she has been ready for the last three weeks.”
Jockey Cornelio Velasquez is aboard Qualia, who drew post 5 with 115 pounds.
Our Khrysty, trained by Todd Beattie for owner Renpher Stable, carries a two-race winning streak into the Top Flight, including a 4 1/2-length success in the Nellie Bly at Belmont a month before her Turnback the Alarm victory. Ramon Dominguez will once again ride Our Khrysty, who was installed at 4-1 on the morning line.
Mrs. C. Wilson McNeeley’s Funny Moon (also 4-1), second by a nose in the Turnback the Alarm, seeks her third graded stakes triumph, having captured the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) in 2009 and the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) this May. Trainer Christophe Clement opted for this spot rather than shipping to Churchill Downs for the Thanksgiving Day Falls City Handicap (gr. II).
The chestnut was third in both the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) in June and the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 17, and returned from a brief layoff to finish fifth on Keeneland’s artificial surface in the Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 10.
“She got beat but ran a nice race in the Turnback the Alarm, and she has had two breezes since, working well both times,” Clement said.
$150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 3:38 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Way With Words (NJ), J Lezcano, 114, M E Eppler
2. Sara Louise (KY), E S Prado, 119, S bin Suroor
3. Spacy Tracy (KY), J Rose, 115, A W Dutrow
4. Our Khrysty (KY), R A Dominguez, 117, T M Beattie
5. Qualia (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, R Ribaudo
6. R Betty Graybull (NY), C H Marquez Jr., 113, L A White
7. Funny Moon (KY), A Garcia, 119, C Clement