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Kathleen O. Returns to New York for Top Flight

The race's lone graded winner is 4-for-7 with earnings of $478,255 earnings.

Kathleen O. trains last spring at Churchill Downs

Kathleen O. trains last spring at Churchill Downs

Casey Laughter

Winngate Stables’ dual graded-stakes winner Kathleen O. will make the second start of her 4-year-old campaign April 2 in the $100,000 Top Flight Stakes, a 1 1/8 main track test for older fillies and mares at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Her Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McGaughey, captured the Top Flight previously with Educated Risk (1994), Cat Cay (2001), Daydreaming (2004), and Carrumba (2016) and shares the win record with fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle two contenders in Sunday's race.

Kathleen O., the race's lone graded winner, brags field-high earnings of $478,255 and a record of 4-2-0 in seven starts. Her graded stakes conquests came early during her sophomore season with triumphs in Gulfstream Park’s Davona Dale Stakes (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) before a troubled fifth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

A dark bay or brown daughter of Upstart , Kathleen O. enters off a late-closing runner-up finish in the Feb. 18 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream. There, she broke a step slow and was sixth down the backstretch before launching a four-wide move around the far turn and finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind a prominent Classy Edition.

“The horse made an easy lead that day and there was no pace,” said McGaughey. “It wasn’t really her type of setup, but she still ran a good race.”


Late-running Kathleen O., who adds blinkers Sunday, enjoyed a strong sophomore campaign, which also included a win in the Cash Run Stakes at Gulfstream en route to her Davona Dale score.

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Bridlewood Farm, Kathleen O. is the first progeny out of the stakes-placed Blame  mare Quaver.

Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano, the pilot in all seven of Kathleen O.’s lifetime starts, will maintain the mount from post 4. He will pursue his second straight Top Flight conquest after guiding last year’s winner Exotic West.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher also pursues a record fifth Top Flight conquest when sending out WinStar Farm and China Horse Club's Falconet and China Horse Club's Let Her Inspire U.

Falconet, a 4-year-old bay daughter of Uncle Mo  out of the Grade 1 winner Birdatthewire, was a last-out second to Frost Point in the Feb. 18 Heavenly Prize Invitational Stakes.

New York-bred stake-winner Let Her Inspire U will stretch back out to nine furlongs following a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming victory against open company on February 24 at the Big A. 

Merrylegs Farm’s New York homebred Timeless Journey will face open stakes company for the first time for trainer Ray Handal. The 6-year-old Verrazano mare was victorious against state-breds in the last out Biogio’s Rose going a one-turn mile March 12, where she was off a step slow and took to the rear of the compact field passing the chute. She got going approaching the turn and established command passing the stretch call to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the good main track.

Following a successful Big A winter meet as leading conditioner, Linda Rice will look to start the spring meet off right when saddling Ronald Stewart’s five-time winner Mommasgottarun for her stakes debut. The 4-year-old Maclean's Music  filly was a 3 1/4-length winner going a one-turn mile in a March 17 allowance optional claimer last out under Eric Cancel.

Completing the field are 10-time winner Easy to Bless and stakes winner Sweet Willemina.

Entries: Top Flight S.

Aqueduct Racetrack, Sunday, April 2, 2023, Race 7

  • STK
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:34 PM (local)
11Falconet (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Lezcano120Todd A. Pletcher7/2
22Easy to Bless (KY)Jacqueline A. Davis118James W. Ferraro30/1
33Sweet Willemina (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKendrick Carmouche118Scott A. Lake15/1
44Kathleen O. (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano120Claude R. McGaughey III4/5
55Mommasgottarun (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateEric Cancel118Linda Rice6/1
66Timeless Journey (NY)Dylan Davis118Raymond Handal8/1
77Let Her Inspire U (NY)Manuel Franco118Todd A. Pletcher6/1
This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.