OZONE PARK, N.Y. – In the days leading up to the 72nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap on Saturday, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he honestly didn’t know whether his star filly, It’s Tricky, could duplicate her sensational 3-year-old season, in which she won two Grade 1 races in New York and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

If the Top Flight is any indication, the future looks very bright for It’s Tricky. Stalking loose leader Love and Pride through a half-mile in 47.98 seconds, the Godolphin Racing-owned daughter of Mineshaft fended off a challenge on the backstretch from Bahama Bound then set sail for the front on the far turn. She caught Love and Pride at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win by 2 ¾ lengths.

Running for the first time since finishing second behind champion Royal Delta last November in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, It’s Tricky ran the 1 1/16-mile Top Flight in 1:45.30 over a muddy track.

As the 1-4 favorite in the field of five, she paid $2.70 for a $2 win ticket. Love and Pride held second and Bahama Bound finished third, followed by Coco Ecolo and Delightful Mary.

“It’s great,” McLaughlin said. “She’s kind of a special filly for everybody involved with her, or not involved with her. It’s nice off four months for her to win.

“It was a good spot to get started, and we’re thankful she won. We don’t know where we are going to go next. She’ll probably stay here, but the Rampart [Grade 2, March 31] is down there [at Gulfstream Park] at the end of the month. I’ll talk to Simon [Crisford, Godolphin racing manager] about that, the Apple Blossom [Grade 1, Oaklawn Park, April 13], or [the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs on May 4], or wait until [the Grade 1, $400,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park]. It’s just a long time to wait.”

Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said after the race that the Aqueduct inner track was tiring and that he was pleased with It’s Tricky’s performance.

“I was watching [Todd] Pletcher’s filly [Love and Pride], who was coming off a solid effort, and before we hit the quarter pole, she’s already showing signs that she’s tiring,” Dominguez said. “[It’s Tricky] did get tired the last eighth; she was kind of wandering around a little bit, but overall I was very happy with her.”

The victory, It’s Tricky’s sixth in 10 lifetime starts, was worth $120,000; it increased her career earnings to $1,166,500. She is unbeaten in three starts over the inner track, having won an allowance race and the Busher in 2011.