Updated on 09/15/2011 1:30PM

McGaughey's entry Top Flight


JAMAICA, N.Y. - In the past two months, trainer Shug McGaughey has retired multiple graded-stakes-winning fillies Country Hideaway, Serra Lake, and Finder's Fee. He expects the void left by their absence to be filled by Atelier.

Already a multiple Grade 3 winner, * seeks her first Grade 2 victory in Friday's $150,000 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct. McGaughey will also send out Cat Cay in the one-mile race that drew a field of nine.

Although Atelier went off at 53-1 in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, trainer Shug McGaughey loved her chances in that race. Approaching the quarter pole, when Atelier moved into second behind Spain, it looked like she could be capable of lighting up the board. She flattened out a bit late and finished fourth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by the winner, Unbridled Elaine, and just a nose for third.

"Maybe if we had had another race under our belt, who knows?" McGaughey said. "I think she's that kind of filly."

Atelier, a 4-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister, has won eight of 15 starts including the Turnback the Alarm Handicap and Next Move Handicap over Aqueduct's main track. While both of those wins came around two turns, McGaughey doesn't think cutting back to a one-turn mile will bother Atelier. Two of Atelier's wins have come in one-turn mile races, including an entry-level allowance victory in her second career start here in 2000.

Edgar Prado will ride Atelier, the 120-pound highlight, from post 6.

If Atelier can't get it done for McGaughey, perhaps Cat Cay can. A 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Colony, Cat Cay is coming off a lifetime best performance, winning the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland by 7 1/2 lengths. Sitting a perfect trip, Cat Cay earned a lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure of 111.

"I think at a mile, he's going to have to time it right," McGaughey said, referring to jockey John Velazquez. "It looks like there's going to be some pace in there."

Shiny Band, Tugger, and A.O.L. Hayes should establish an honest pace in the Top Flight. Shiny Band, trained by three-time Top Flight winner Allen Jerkens, won three consecutive one-turn races before finishing third in the Grade 3 Honey Bee last time out. She gets eight pounds from Atelier.

Latour and Zonk, two fillies who appear better around two turns, could upset with their best efforts.


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