02/27/2013 4:32PM

Aqueduct: Top Flight excluded from late pick four

Tom Keyser
Summer Applause is the only graded stakes winner among eight fillies and mares entered in Saturday's Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap.

Bettors looking forward to an all-stakes pick three linking the Gotham with the Top Flight and Tom Fool Handicaps on Saturday’s 11-race card at Aqueduct have another thing coming.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight goes as race 7 and is thus positioned out of the $250,000 guaranteed late pick four, which begins a race later with maiden New York-breds.

The Grade 3 Tom Fool, also worth $200,000, is race 9, so multi-race exotic bettors have the option of a rolling double with the featured $400,000 Gotham for 3-year-olds.

Eight older fillies and mares entered the 1  1/1/6-mile Top Flight, a free-for-all where the four top weights carry an identical 116 pounds.

The field from the rail out is: Twice the Lady, Lady Gracenote, Sunny Desert, Summer Applause, Natalie Victoria, Royal Lahaina, Withgreatpleasure, and Sisterly Love.

Summer Applause, the only graded stakes winner, had her rider lose the irons chasing Joyful Victory’s track record in the Houston Ladies Classic in her seasonal bow. She has a new trainer in Chad Brown, and a new jockey in John Velazquez, who rides locally for the first time in 2013.

Sunny Desert, a well-beaten fourth against $35,000 New York-bred maidens when claimed last winter, steps up seeking her seventh consecutive victory for John Parisella.

“When I claimed her, she was in the back of her stall,” Parisella recalled. “With fillies, outside of maintenance, it’s mental, to get them in the game. I ordered a case of peppermints. It changed her around.”

Twice the Lady comes off a win over Withgreatpleasure in the Affectionately for Tony Dutrow, who saddled 2010 Top Flight winner Spacy Tracy.

The six-furlong Tom Fool may be the most wide-open race of the day. All 10 older sprinters are weighted within four pounds of each other, with millionaire Comma to the Top – a close third in last Saturday’s San Carlos – shipping in to carry 118 pounds, one more than Florida invader Off the Jak and Head Heart Hoof, a speedy New York-bred gelding who swiped the Grade 3 Toboggan four weeks ago for Rudy Rodriguez.

“The outside post helped him last time,” said Rodriguez of Head Heart Hoof, who drew post  9.

Todd Pletcher, who has captured the Tom Fool’s last three renewals, sends out Heart Butte off a year layoff, and Johannesburg Smile second time off a $100,000 claim by Mike Repole, who won multiple stakes with former claimer Calibrachoa, including the Tom Fool in 2011 and 2012.

Johannesburg Smile, a fast-closing second in the Toboggan, tuned up with a bullet half-mile workout at Belmont on Monday.

“He came out of that race in super order, thumbs up,” said assistant trainer Michael McCarthy. “Hopefully the Tom Fool sets us up for something a little longer, distance-wise, in his next start after that.”

The field, from the rail out, is: Be Bullish, Comma to the Top, Saturday’s Charm, Johannesburg Smile, Heart Butte, Consortium, St Liams Halo, Off the Jak, Head Heart Hoof, and Smash.

◗ A better-than-average Friday program is highlighted by race 6, a six-furlong, second-level optional $62,500 claimer that pits the come-backing Mike Likes It against the ultra-consistent Centrique and Well Kept, who was dual stakes-placed on the inner track as a 3-year-old last winter. Mikey Likes It is part of a Michael Dubb-owned entry with Isn’t She Grand, a four-time winner on the inner track, and the field’s top earner with nearly $250,000.