First Flight Handicap: It's All About the Shoes

(edited track release)
When Sabine Stable's Win McCool keeps her shoes on, she is capable of winning graded stakes. When they come off, it usually results in an off-the-board finish. Because of an oddly-shaped foot, sometimes there is no amount of nails or glue that can keep that shoe on.

She'll need all four tightly secured Saturday in the $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Aqueduct. The homebred 3-year-old filly faces nine other fillies and mares in the seven-furlong grade II event.

Win McCool lost a shoe in the six-furlong Prioress Breeders' Cup (gr. I) and finished a fading sixth. She reported back with all four shoes following her victory in the Floral Park Handicap (gr. III) over Great Intentions, but then lost a shoe in her most recent start, the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II), and was beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Great Intentions.

"She lost a front shoe in her last race and that's what got her beat because she was just galloping at the three-eighths pole," trainer Bob Barbara said of the daughter of Giant's Causeway --Win Crafty Lady, by Crafty Prospector. "She did the same thing in the Prioress when (Richard) Migliore rode her. She's got a little foot issue."

Barry Schwartz' Great Intentions looked sharp winning the Gallant Bloom at Belmont Oct. 8 and appears to be back in top form while trying to defend her title in the First Flight. From December through August, it appeared that Great Intentions was not at her best, winning only once in six attempts during those months.

Great Intentions, bred in Kentucky by Alex Rankin and Richard and Patricia Lenihan, is a 4-year-old daughter of Cat Thief--Packet, by Polish Navy.

The highweight for the First Flight is Peter Vesgo's Splendid Blended, who won the Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream in March and Steve Van Buren at Philadelphia Park in September. Both races were at the First Flight distance.

The 4-year-old homebred, by Unbridled's Song out of the Valid Appeal mare Valid Blend, won the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) as a juvenile and the Vanity Invitational Handicap (gr. I) last July.

Among the other contenders in the First Flight are Annika Lass, winner of the Steve Van Buren in 2005 who finished second to Great Intentions in the Gallant Bloom.

Grecian Lover's last race over this track was a near-miss in the Bed o' Roses at seven furlongs in April, coming up a neck short to Magnolia Jackson.

Test Stakes (gr. I) winner Swap Fliparoo has failed to menace in her last two starts, the Floral Park and Gallant Bloom. She was beaten soundly by both Win McCool and Great Intentions in both those spots.

Both Grecian Lover and Swap Fliparoo are trained by Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens.

First Flight Handicap (gr. II), $150,000, seven furlongs, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, Aqueduct, Saturday, Oct. 28

PP- Horse - Trainer - Jockey - Wgt.
1 - Annika Lass - Scott Blasi - Edgar Prado - 115
2 - Win McCool - Bob Barbara - John Velazquez - 114
3 - Swap Fliparoo - Allen Jerkens - Jose Santos - 114
4 - Carmandia - Richard Dutrow Jr. - Cornelio Velasquez - 114
5 - Splendid Blended - Bill Mott - Eibar Coa - 118
6 - Pleasant Laughter - Phil Serpe - Channing Hill - 112
7 - Heavenly Psalm - David Duggan - Fernando Jara - 112
8 - Grecian Lover - Allen Jerkens - Kent Desormeaux - 115
9 - Great Intentions - Mike Hushion - Javier Castellano - 117
10 - Notimetoquit - Ramon Preciado - Jose Lezcano - 114