11/26/2003 12:00AM

Distance the Top Flight wild card


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Tony Dutrow is in the rare position of not only having a major contender for Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap, but also having intimate knowledge of one of his filly's major challengers.

The Maryland-based Dutrow will ship in Willa on the Move for the Top Flight, and among her chief rivals in the field of 12 fillies and mares will be Randaroo, a 3-year-old whom Dutrow trained for her first eight starts.

This fall, owner Joe Allen transferred Randaroo to Kiaran McLaughlin, for whom Randaroo won two graded sprint stakes. While Dutrow has high praise for Randaroo and great respect for McLaughlin, he said he does not think Randaroo can get the one-mile distance of the Top Flight and said he believes Willa on the Move will relish it.

"Thank God for Randaroo,'' said Dutrow, who won three races with Randaroo, including the 2002 Valley Stream Stakes. "I bought Randaroo for $75,000, I made $150,000, and I sold her for $1 million. I won a graded stakes with her in most impressive fashion. Kiaran has done a wonderful job with her, my hat's off to him, top honors. However, Randaroo does not want a mile. Randaroo is no Willa on the Move.''

Willa on the Move, who finished fifth in this race last year, has not yet proven she wants a mile either. But the way she won the Grade 3 Honorable Miss at Saratoga and the Maryland Million Distaff last month - both at seven furlongs - suggests the mile will be within her scope.

"I don't have any concern being that it's a one-turn mile,'' said Dutrow, whose filly will break from post 9 under Edgar Prado.

Willa on the Move should benefit from a plethora of speed in the Top Flight. Randaroo won the First Flight in front-running fashion, but came off the pace in the Grade 3 Safely Kept at Pimlico.

"The mile is a question on the day,'' McLaughlin said. "How she's going to run, Herbie [Castillo] will have to play it by ear. There's a lot of speed, and we have a lot of speed.''

Kentucky shippers Miss Lodi and Beauty Halo look to be the primary speed of the race. Pocus Hocus, the Turnback the Alarm Handicap winner, figures to be sitting up close.

Longshot players could do worse than plunking a few dollars on Drexel Monorail. She got off poorly in the First Flight, but closed well and was beaten only two lengths. Two starts back, she beat next-out winners Pocus Hocus and Artist Johanna in the Long Look at The Meadowlands.

First post for Friday's 10-race card is noon.