Kiaran McLaughlin trains two of the top three choices in Friday's $150,000 Delta Airlines/Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct in Roar Emotion and Bending Strings. But don't tell him he is in an enviable position.
"I hate running them against each other," said McLaughlin, who sent out last year's winner, Randaroo. "They're both good fillies owned by good people."
Roar Emotion and Bending Strings, who will face five in the mile race for fillies and mares, will run uncoupled.
Three-year-old Bending Strings won the First Flight (gr. II) Oct. 30 at Aqueduct and sports two graded wins and two graded runner-up efforts this year. She is winless in three starts at a mile.
"Seven-eighths is probably her best distance, but she's doing so well and if there is enough pace, she should be running late," her trainer said.
Roar Emotion, who won the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) as a juvenile two years ago at Aqueduct and has been a graded winner her two other years, comes off a big runner-up finish to Personal Legend in the Nov. 6 Turnback the Alarm (gr. III) at the Big A. She broke from a near-outside post and as a result was wide around both turns.
"She had a tough trip, but that's racing," McLaughlin said.
Roar Emotion, who won the Sabin (gr. III) at this year's Gulfstream meeting, was off since late August prior to the Turnback the Alarm.
Daydreaming, trained by Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey, won the Oct. 1 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) after running a close second to Stellar Jayne in the Gazelle (gr. I) three weeks earlier. Daydreaming ran third to Society Column and Bending Strings in the Comely (gr. III) in the spring in her sole Aqueduct start.
Pop Princess sports wins in her last two starts, the first at Belmont, and the second Oct. 29 at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old filly is trained by Bobby Frankel, who won the race with Sightseek in 2002.
Estimated Local Post Time: 3:48
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1 Pop Princess 112 Rafael Bejarano
2 Bending Strings 118 Shaun Bridgmohan
3 Roar Emotion 116 John R. Velazquez
4 Caught in the Rain 113 Cornelio Velasquez
5 Distinctive Kitten 110 Pablo Fragoso
6 Tempus Fugit 113 Stewart Elliott
7 Daydreaming 117 Jerry Bailey