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Summer Applause Gets Job Done in Top Flight

Favored Summer Applause grabbed the lead in midstretch and held on for a 2 ¾-length victory over Twice the Lady in Saturday’s 73rd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.

 

Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in her first start for trainer Chad Brown, Summer Applause settled in third as long shot Natalie Victoria, who was tracked by Sisterly Love, took the field of seven fillies and mares through an opening quarter-mile in 23.52 seconds and a half in 47.05. As Natalie Victoria weakened, Summer Applause moved up three-wide to confront Sisterly Love on the far turn, taking command in midstretch and going on to cross the wire in 1:44.10 for the 1 1/16 miles.

 

“When the two horses [Natalie Victoria and Withgreatpleasure] didn’t break, I tried to just come out and get a nice position going into the first turn,” said Velazquez, who with the win began the day’s 11-race card 3-for-3. “At the 3 ½, I let her go. I watched the races, and it seemed like if she is close to the pace she finishes better. Last time I didn’t ride her, but she was too far back and didn’t really put in any effort. Today, she’s where she wanted to be.”

 

The victory was the first for the 4-year-old Harlan’s Holiday filly since she took the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds a year ago. Following that, she was second and fourth to Believe You Can in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, respectively, before undergoing surgery for a chipped knee. She returned to finish sixth, beaten 15 lengths in the Houston Ladies Classic in January, after which she was transferred to Brown in Florida.

 

“She shipped in [to New York], she’s had no problems with the weather or the climate change and she’s been training well the two days she’s been here,” said Brown’s assistant, Cherie DeVaux of Summer Applause, who carries the colors of Gillian S. Campbell, Greenwood Lodge Farm, Dan Clark and Greg Skoda. “She looks great and they did a really good job with her in Florida getting her ready to come up here for today.”

 

Sent off at 6-5, Summer Applause returned $4.60 for a $2 win bet and earned $120,000. Overall, she is 4-2-0 from nine starts with earnings of $473,040.

 

Twice the Lady was a neck in front of third-place New York-bred Sunny Desert, whose six-race win streak came to an end. Lady Gracenote, Sisterly Love, Withgreatpleasure and Natalie Victoria completed the order of finish. Royal Lahaina was scratched.

 

 

 

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