Storm Flag Flying is scheduled to make her first start this year in Friday's Comely Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Last year's champion 2-year-old filly has not raced since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last October. Storm Flag Flying (Storm Cat--My Flag), is a homebred racing for Ogden Mills Phipps.
Five fillies plan to face Storm Flag Flying in the 54th running of the Comely. Among them is Cyber Secret, winner of the grade III Cicada in her last start. She and Storm Flag Flying will carry 122 pounds in the Comely, while the rest of the field will carry 116.
Storm Flag Flying spent her winter down in Florida and has been in serious training for a little more than two months. In her first New York work on April 6, she went a half-mile in :47.15.
Trainer Shug McGaughey said he plans on pointing Storm Flag Flying to NYRA's newly revamped Triple Tiara series, which will offer a $2 million bonus to the connections of any 3-year-old filly that can sweep the June 28th Mother Goose, July 19th Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont and then Saratoga's Alabama on August 16th. All of those events carry a grade I standing.
Additionally, McGaughey did not rule out a potential berth in the May 2nd Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. If she wins the Comely, and barring the unforeseen she should, Storm Flag Flying would likely head into the Kentucky Oaks an overwhelming favorite if her connections opted to ship. "The Oaks is a possibility," McGaughey said. "Then, we'll point to the big races in New York over the summer." A victory Friday will push Storm Flag Flying over $1 million in earnings.
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. isn't thrilled his multiple stakes winner Cyber Secret will have to face the Eclipse Award-winning Storm Flag Flying in the Comely, but said he is taking his filly to the Aqueduct paddock with the intention of scoring a major upset.
"I'm not going into this hoping we're second best," Dutrow said. "I'll be satisfied with a win or if our filly runs huge and just gets beat." Cyber Secret has improved leaps and bounds since Dutrow claimed the daughter of Cyberspace in early August at Saratoga. She really has come to hand in the last few months while winning the Busanda and most recently, the Cicada over last year's Demoiselle winner Roar Emotion.
"I didn't think much of her at first," Dutrow said. "I was hoping we could win a couple of races with her and at least get the money we claimed her for back. She's been a real nice surprise. She's really impressed me."
Cyber Secret, who may go off a distant second choice behind Storm Flag Flying, will only start if the track is dry according to Dutrow. Rain is forecast for Friday. "She ran her worse race in the mud at Belmont," Dutrow said. "I don't think I'd want to run her against Storm Flag Flying on a muddy track."
The field for Friday's $100,000 Comely Stakes, Aqueduct's eighth race, from the rail, including jockey and weight:
1--Storm Flag Flying, John Velazquez, 122
2--Cyber Secret, Shaun Bridgmohan, 122
3--Xtra Heart, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 116
4--Glorious Jenna, Mike Luzzi, 116
5--Bonay, Eibar Coa, 116
6--Belong to Sea, Richard Migliore, 116