Day At The Track

Can Top Flight Angel return to winning ways

09:42 AM 04 Feb 2020 NZDT
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Top Flight Angel, harness racing
Top Flight Angel
Katy Gazzini photo

Top Flight Angel, the winner of the 2017 Yonkers Trot, is ready to return to the races this week and his connections hope he will be continuing his ascent to the million-dollar level.

A 6-year-old stallion, Top Flight Angel has won 14 of 65 career races and $902,820 for breeder/owner Alan Hainsworth, a New Yorker who races under the name Legendary Standardbred Farm. Hainsworth has a special bond with the horse because he owns Top Flight Angel's sire, the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel, and dam, Top Photo.

"It's fantastic," Hainsworth said. "He's grown up into a beautiful horse, so perfectly gaited, and he's very easy to drive. He's got a lot of brains. I want to race him until he makes a million dollars, then we'll see where we are with him. He's been a great horse."

Top Flight Angel is beginning his fourth season in the barn of trainer Julie Miller. He battled sickness last year, limiting him to three victories, but after a nearly two-month respite won a qualifier last Friday at The Meadowlands in 1:54.2 and has been entered to race this weekend.

"We gave him a lot of TLC and time to get over (his illness)," Miller said. "I thought that was a pretty decent qualifier the other day up there at The Meadowlands.

"He's always been a pleasure to be around. He's a beautiful horse and he loves his job. You're not supposed to fall in love with them, but he would definitely be on my list of favorites. When he goes on the track, you know that no matter what, he's going to give it his all."

Winning the Yonkers Trot with Archangel provided Hainsworth with a great memory. Capturing the Trotting Triple Crown event a second time with Top Flight Angel might even have topped the first.

"Winning it once is like a miracle, and then to win it twice with the father and son and same owner, that was big," Hainsworth said. "To win it twice, there are hardly any words. If I ever got there again, I would probably be crying. I haven't given that thought up, either."

Eleven days after Top Flight Angel won the Yonkers Trot, he rolled into Batavia Downs for a division of the New York Sire Stakes. He won in 1:54.3, equaling the track record set five years earlier by his father, Archangel.

"That was another unbelievable night," Hainsworth said.

"I was impressed with how he got around all those tracks in New York," Miller said. "You could send him anywhere and I knew he could handle those half-mile tracks and handle that grind. He was just that class of horse."

Top Flight Angel, who finished second in the 2018 Breeders Crown Open Trot and was runner-up in the Harry Harvey Invitational the same year, will likely spend a good amount of time this season competing at The Meadowlands and Yonkers.

"Hopefully he can make a couple hundred thousand this year," Hainsworth said.

"I'd like to get him to the million-dollar mark," Miller said. "That's always a nice accomplishment for any horse to make it to that point."

If Top Flight Angel reaches that level, he would join his father in the million-dollar club (Archangel banked $1.14 million) and become his father's second offspring to surpass the barrier (joining Guardian Angel AS).

And while Hainsworth will be watching Top Flight Angel, he will also be keeping tabs on Archangel-sired newcomers heading to the races later this season. Hainsworth's own Angel Nation, purchased under the name Stable Genius for $60,000 at the 2018 Standardbred Horse Sale, is among them. He did not race last year as a 2-year-old.

"He's a beautifully gaited horse, that's what is so nice about him, and he looks terrific," Hainsworth said.

"It's exciting to have the stallion and watch these owners that have their new Archangel babies come on board. I spend quite a lot of time in Canada (where Archangel stands) watching these new ones come up. I get a big kick out of it. That's pretty exciting to me."

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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