Michael Dubb’s Battle Bling and John Grossi’s Racing Corp.’s Maiden Beauty who finished a respective second and third last out in the Heavenly Prize Invitational Stakes March 6, are set to meet once more in the April 10 $100,000 Top Flight Invitational Stakes for older fillies and mares traveling nine furlongs over the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Rob Atras, Battle Bling has proven to be an adept acquisition by Dubb, who claimed her for $62,500 out of a game second-place effort in an allowance optional claiming race on Dec. 19 for former conditioner Danny Gargan at Aqueduct. The daughter of Vancouver was a determined winner in her first start for new connections, taking the nine-furlong Ladies at the Big A on January 16 by a neck over Miss Leslie after trailing by 3 1/2 lengths at the half-mile marker.
“The day we claimed her, she ran a really big race. We had her nominated to the Ladies (Stakes) and weren’t exactly sure if we were going to go into stakes company,” said Atras. “We looked at the nominations and it looked like she fit in there, so we wanted to take a shot.”
The Dark Bay has been a consistent competitor throughout her three seasons of racing, earning three victories and six other on-the-board finishes from 14 lifetime starts. She broke her maiden at third asking at Indiana Grand and has shown versatility since, hitting the board in races over sloppy and sealed, good and sealed, and all-weather surfaces.
A $110,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Battle Bling was bred in Kentucky by Royal Oak Farm and Edwyn Kiely.
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Trevor McCarthy has the call again from post 5.
The Robert Falcone Jr.-trained Maiden Beauty has been a model of consistency since being claimed for $45,000 out of a runner-up effort sprinting seven furlongs in an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont Park in June.
The 6-year-old Revolutionary mare showed her talent early on, debuting and breaking her maiden in the Lynbrook Stakes at Belmont in July 2018. She has won or finished in-the-money in 6-of-7 starts since being claimed by John Grossi’s Racing Corp., including a stakes triumph in the nine-furlong Bay Ridge Stakes against fellow state-breds at the Big A in December over sloppy and sealed going.
Her win in the Bay Ridge came on just 11 days rest after she was a determined winner by a neck over Battle Bling in a one-mile optional claimer on December 19. Maiden Beauty was an easy winner despite the short rest, earning her second stakes victory by 3 3/4 lengths over returning rival ice princess .
“She’s been ready to run and we tried entering her in another stake and it didn’t go, but I don’t mind the extra time between races,” Falcone Jr. said. “The only time I ran her back quick was in the Bay Ridge. But we gave her plenty of time after that and she’s a very determined horse.”
Maiden Beauty’s most recent work was a half-mile breeze in :49.27 seconds over the Belmont dirt training track on April 3.
Falcone said that he welcomes another match-up with Battle Bling.
“I think it’s cool. I always like when the same horses run against each other and you look back in the form and see horses that have beaten each other before,” Falcone said. “It makes it fun and you don’t see it as much anymore. They both try every time.”
Maiden Beauty will emerge from post 2 with regular pilot Kendrick Carmouche up.
Looking to regain her winning form is Flying P Stable, RA Hill Stable and trainer Danny Gargan’s New York-bred Ice Princess. She had a quartet of on-the-board efforts dating back to a runner-up finish in the John Hettinger Stakes at Belmont in October.
A daughter of Palace Malice , Ice Princess was a debut winner at Belmont in September 2019 and took the Maddie May Stakes against state-breds two starts later in her second start at stakes level. She picked up a graded placing when second in the 2020 Comely Stakes (G3) at the Big A.
Dylan Davis has the call from the outermost post 6.
Completing the field are four-time winner Exotic West for trainer Gary Sciacca; Frost Point , who makes her stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; and Royal Delta Stakes (G3) runner-up Into Vanishing for trainer Jonathan Thomas.
The Top Flight Invitational is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. ET.
Inputs: Top Flight Invitational S.
Aqueduct Racetrack, Sunday, April 10, 2022, Race 8
- 1 1/8m
- 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
- 5:01 PM (local)