04/11/2015 5:04PM

House Rules gets up to win Top Flight Handicap


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In the end, jockey Junior Alvarado said it helped to be on the best horse.

House Rules, the 2-5 favorite, needed all her class – and the length of the stretch of Aqueduct’s main track – to get up and win Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap by a half-length over Before You Know It.  It was a head back to Shayjolie in third.

Shayjolie was 6 1/4 lengths clear of Joint Return, who was followed in order by Agawa, Holiday’s Jewel, JCs American Dream, and Amulay. Got Lucky was scratched.

The win was the sixth from 15 career starts for House Rules, a 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor owned by Jerry Shields and trained by Jimmy Jerkens. Earlier this year, House Rules won the Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream Park but was coming off a runner-up finish to Sheer Drama in the Grade 2 Royal Delta, a race run around two turns.

In the Top Flight, Alvarado had House Rules saving ground along the inside while Amulay set the pace chased by Before You Know It and Shayjolie.

Before You Know It and Shayjolie moved in tandem past Amulay after six furlongs were run in 1:13.86. House Rules followed that pair, but for a moment in mid-stretch, it looked like Before You Know It and Shayjolie were getting away.

Alvarado got House Rules several paths wide, was able to get her to change her leads, and she finished fast enough despite drifting out to get the victory.
House Rules covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.31 and returned $2.80 to win.

“As soon as I tipped her out at the five-sixteenths pole, I thought, ‘I got them,’ and all of a sudden, the horses in front start running away from me before I started asking my filly,” Alvarado said. “I had the best horse, and that’s probably why I did win the race.”

Jerkens said House Rules probably prefers running in races run around one turn and gave credit to Alvarado, who was subbing for Javier Castellano who was at Keeneland on Saturday.

“She probably really isn’t a mile-and-an-eighth horse,” Jerkens said. “She’s built like a horse that’s more of a one-turn horse, and she probably is. She’s just in good shape right now, and I thought he gave her a great ride.”