By Francis LaBelle Jr.

WinStar Farm’s favored Leah’s Secret backed off of an early speed duel and came late to pick of the pieces at Aqueduct Racetrack on Friday afternoon, rallying past Slewfoundmoney for a three-quarter-length victory in the 69th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Top Fight Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile.

With Any Limit, Slewfoundmoney, Altesse and Rite Moment bent on the lead, jockey Eibar Coa allowed Leah’s Secret to relax into a stalking position. Any Limit emerged with the lead, but had to run an opening quarter mile of 23.24 and a half of 45.92 on the fast main track to do it.

The pace wilted the frontrunner, and Slewfoundmoney took over the lead into deep stretch. Coa, however, had drafted in behind horses, moved Leah’s Secret out on the turn and came widest of all down the lane. He gave the 5-year-old Tiger Ridge mare seven pops with this right hand, before turning his stick down and hand-riding her to the victory in 1:36.40.

“She did everything I asked her to,” Coa said. “She’s a very helpful horse, very professional. I loved her today, she was ready to run.”

So impressive was Leah’s Secret’s run that trainer Todd Pletcher may try to race her again in the Sunshine Millions, which features Florida-breds, like Leah’s Secret, and California breds in races at Gulfstream Park in Florida and at Santa Anita on January 24, 2009. That would delay her trip to the breeding shed.

“It was a big run from her,” Pletcher said. “She did everything professionally. We were fortunate to pick her up earlier this year. She’s been a real pleasure for us. I’m pretty sure she has a date with Distorted Humor, but she is eligible for the Sunshine Millions. She is in such good form now, that I might ask WinStar for one more race.”

Leah’s Secret, who returned $7.60 to win, has now won eight of 25 starts.

Boca Grande was third, with So Glitzy, Altesse, Any Limit, Shining Image and Rite Moment trailing.

Weathered was scratched.