Kathleen O. training at Churchill Downs ahead of a run in the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (Coady Photography)
By Ryan Martin – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Winngate Stables’ dual graded-stakes winner Kathleen O. will make the second start of her 4-year-old campaign in Sunday’s $100,000 Top Flight, a nine-furlong main track test for older fillies and mares at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trainer Shug McGaughey captured the Top Flight previously with Educated Risk , Cat Cay , Daydreaming , and Carrumba  and shares the win record with Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle two contenders here.
Kathleen O., the lone graded winner in the field, brags field-high earnings of $478,255 and a record of 7-4-2-0. Her graded stakes conquests came early during her sophomore season with triumphs in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Davona Dale and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks before a troubled fifth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
A dark bay or brown daughter of Upstart, Kathleen O. enters off a late-closing runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Royal Delta on February 18 at Gulfstream. There, she broke a step slow and was sixth-of-7 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 set up, but she still ran a good race.”
Kathleen O. enjoyed a strong sophomore campaign, which also included a win in the Cash Run at Gulfstream en route to her Davona Dale score.
“She looks good. She’s still tall and kind of lanky, but she has filled out quite well,” McGaughey said. “She’s fresh and she’s been working real well this winter.”
McGaughey said a strong effort in the Top Flight would likely warrant Grade 1 aspirations for Kathleen O., who will race with blinkers on.
“We’ll see how she runs in there,” McGaughey said. “Somewhere along the line I’d like to run her back in a Grade 1 for her pedigree. I’d like to have her good for those two turn races at Saratoga.”
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Bridlewood Farm, Kathleen O. is the first progeny out of the stakes-placed Blame mare Quaver, whose second dam is multiple graded stakes producer Pretty N Smart. Kathleen O. was bought for $275,000 at the 2021 OBS April Sale.
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 CHC Inc.’s Falconet [post 1, Jose Lezcano] and CHC Inc.’s Let Her Inspire U [post 7, Manny Franco].
Pletcher’s previous Top Flight scores include Mini Sermon , Leah’s Secret , Teen Pauline  and Another Broad .
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 February 18 Heavenly Prize Invitational over the local surface. This effort saw her cut back to a one-turn mile after ringing in the New Year on a winning note in the nine-furlong Ladies on January 1.
Falconet additionally earned black type going two turns during her sophomore season when second in both the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks in July at Prairie Meadows and the Seneca Overnight 2 1/2 months later at Churchill Downs. Falconet’s lone off-the-board effort took place in the local Grade 3 Comely in November, where she stumbled at the start and finished fourth beaten 2 1/2 lengths.
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. The Practical Joke bay, bred by Pine Ridge Stables, captured last year’s nine-furlong Empire Distaff on October 30 at Belmont at the Big A in her lone stakes victory. She brags a consistent 11-5-2-2 record and $413,080 in earnings.
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 on 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.
Handal said the 1 1/16-mile $200,000 Critical Eye Handicap on May 29 at Belmont Park against fellow Empire State-breds is a long term goal for Timeless Journey.
“I really don’t want to sit on her until the end of May, which is when the next New York-bred stakes for her is,” Handal said. “She bounced out of her last race in good order. It’ll be tough competition but if we can get a piece of it, I think it’s happy days and we’re on to New York-bred company where we should be pretty tough for the rest of the year.”
Timeless Journey’s Biogio’s Rose victory came following a nine-furlong win against open company on January 26 at the Big A, where she equaled a career-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure with a 1 1/2-length win over fellow Top Flight aspirants and next out winners Mommasgottarun and Let Her Inspire U.
“She got a dream trip when she won going the mile and an eighth before winning the stake,” Handal said. “There was a lot going on in that race. Mommasgottarun got shuffled back and ran on. But my filly ran big and had things go her way. It gives me confidence that the distance shouldn’t be so much of an issue.”
Timeless Journey is out of the multiple stakes-winning Utopia mare Matchmadeinheaven, who is a half-sister to stakes-winners See More Spirit and Pentelis, as well as the graded stakes-placed Chasin’ Wimmin.
Breaking from post 6, Timeless Journey will be ridden by Dylan Davis – the jockey in her last five starts.
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.
Claimed by Rice for $50,000 out of a December 31 claiming event going seven furlongs from trainer Robert Falcone, Jr., Mommasgottarun has won 2-of-3 starts under her current conditioner’s care. She crossed the wire second in her debut for Rice – a nine-furlong optional claiming test on January 12 – but was elevated to first.
Bred in Ontario by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Mommasgotta run is out of the Tiznow mare Love in Tokyo, whose dam Lisa T. is a half-sister to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. She hails from the prominent bloodlines of influential matriarch La Troienne.
Cancel retains the mount from post 5.
Completing the field are 10-time winner Easy to Bless [post 2, Jackie Davis] and stakes winner Sweet Willemina [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche].
The Top Flight honors C.V. Whitney’s two-time Champion Hall of Famer, who was named Champion 2-Year-Old Filly in 1931 and Champion 3-Year-Old-Filly in 1932. Trained by Tom Healey, Top Flight boasted an unbeaten record in seven starts during her juvenile season, capturing the Lassie, Spinaway and Matron against fillies. She defeated colts in the Saratoga Special, Pimlico Futurity and Belmont Futurity, the latter of which saw her defeat the following year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Burgoo King as well as Belmont Stakes winner Faireno. As a 3-year-old, she captured the Acorn, Ladies, Arlington Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama.
The Top Flight is slated as Race 7 on Sunday’s eight-race program at the Big A. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.