Storm Flag Flying, last year's Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly, will likely face six challengers next Friday in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, according to New York Racing Association racing secretary Mike Lakow.
Four of the six probable 3-year-old fillies in the one-mile Acorn are coming off winning efforts. Heading the list is Marylou Whitney Stable's Bird Town, winner of the 1 1/8-miles Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on May 2. The homebred daughter of Cape Town pulled off an 18-1 upset in the Oaks, coming from off a fast pace to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths. Trainer Nick Zito sent her out earlier in the year to win the seven-furlong Charon Stakes at Gulfstream Park, so cutting back to a one-turn mile shouldn't be a problem.
Other winners include Final Round, Kitty Knight, and House Party. The remaining challengers for the $250,000 event are Lady Tak, a back-to-back stakes winner earlier in the year at Fair Grounds who was sixth in the Kentucky Oaks; and the Tony Dutrow-trained Randaroo, who ran second in the six-furlong Smart Halo Stakes at Pimlico in her last effort.
Final Round, a Storm Cat filly bred in Kentucky by Dinwiddie Farm and owned by G. Watts Humphrey, is trained by Rusty Arnold. She won the seven-furlong La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Down in her last start on May 1. Sporting a 3-3-1 record from seven career starts, Final Round won the Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth and ran third in the Walmac Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) as a 2-year-old.
Kitty Knight was fourth, beaten 17 1/2 lengths in the Charon Stakes in February, but came back May 2 off the layoff to win an allowance race at Aqueduct by three-quarters of a length. Trained by Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, Kitty Knight is a daughter of Capote bred by Mrs. Richard duPont and raced by her Bohemia Stable. The Maryland-bred won her first two starts last year, a maiden race and the seven-furlong Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel.
Allen Jerkens also trains House Party for owner/breeder Joseph V. Shields. The daughter of French Deputy won the grade II Nassau County Breeders' Cup Stakes at seven furlongs in her last start. In her wake was Cyber Secret, who handed Storm Flag Flying her lone defeat earlier in the year.
Storm Flag Flying, undefeated in four starts last year, finished second, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Cyber Secret, in her 2003 debut, the one-mile Comely Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct on April 18. Despite the defeat, the daughter of Storm Cat figures to be the favorite in the one-turn mile Acorn run on June 6, the day before the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). An Acorn/Belmont daily double wager will be offered.
A daughter of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner My Flag, Storm Flag Flying, was bred by the Phipps Stable, and races for Ogden Mills Phipps. Trainer Shug McGaughey will be going for his third Acorn victory, having won the race with Finder's Fee (1999) and Inside Information (1994).