Storm Flag Flying, seeking to get back to her championship form from a year ago, will break from post 1 for Friday's Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The Ogden Mills Phipps' homebred daughter of Storm Cat out of My Flag will face six 3-year-old fillies in the one-turn mile contest. The race will be shown live on national television on ESPN2 with an approximate post time of 5:40 p.m. EDT. An Acorn/Belmont daily double wager will be offered.
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, count on her being the favorite in the Acorn. She sharpened up for the Acorn with a :36 4/5 three-furlong drill on Tuesday morning. She is a perfect two-for-two at Belmont, winning the grade I Matron and Frizette Stakes last year. Regular rider John Velazquez will be aboard.
Facing last year's Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly, from post 2 out, are: Lady Tak, Kitty Knight, Randaroo, House Party, Final Round, and Bird Town.
Marylou Whitney Stables' homebred Bird Town has the best recent credentials to upend Storm Flag Flying. The daughter from the first crop of Cape Town pulled off a surprising 18-1 upset in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles on May 2. Trainer Nick Zito has kept her at his base in Saratoga since her major win. Should wet weather come into play, with the soaking rains that have pelted the New York area since Tuesday, Bird Town broke her maiden in the mud at Churchill last November and ran second over a muddy track at Keeneland in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) in her start prior to the Oaks.
Bird Town has a 3-4-1 record from eight career starts and has earned $498,751. She has yet to start over the Belmont surface. Edgar Prado has a return call.
House Party and Final Round are also coming into the Acorn off graded stakes victories.
House Party, a Joseph V. Shields homebred daughter of French Deputy, has won her last two, including a win the Legal Light Stakes over a sloppy track at Delaware Park and a three-length score in the Nassau County Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) over the Belmont surface. Trained by Hall of Famer Allan Jerkens, House Party has a 4-2-2 record from nine starts and has earned $302,064. Jose Santos, who will ride Funny Cide in his bid for the Triple Crown the following afternoon, will ride.
Final Round, owned by G. Watts Humphrey, won the seven-furlong La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on May 1. The daughter of Storm Cat has been training in New York since under the care of Rusty Arnold.
Lady Tak shortens up to a mile off three longer efforts. In her last try, the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable star ran sixth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. She won her first five starts, including the one-mile Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds prior to running second to Elloluv in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland before the Oaks. Trainer Steve Asmussen has employed Jerry Bailey to ride the John Franks-bred daughter of Mutakddim.
Joseph Allen's Randaroo has won three of four starts, but has yet to travel beyond six furlongs. Trained by Tony Dutrow, Randaroo won the Valley Stream Stakes (gr. III) at 2. She tasted defeat for the first time in her last start, the six-furlong Smart Halo Stakes at Pimlico April 13 where she lost by a neck.
Kitty Knight, a Bohemia Stable homebred daughter of Capote, is also trained by Jerkens. The Maryland-bred won the Heavenly Cause Stakes for state-breds last October, but was 17 ½ lengths back of Bird Town in the seven-furlong Charon Stakes at Gulfstream in February.
Acorn Stakes (gr. I), $250,000, one mile, 3-year-old fillies, Belmont Park, June 6
PP, Horse, Jockey
1, Storm Flag Flying, John Velazquez
2, Lady Tak, Jerry Bailey
3, Kitty Knight, Jean-Luc Samyn
4, Randaroo, Jorge Chavez
5, House Party, Jose Santos
6, Final Round, Gary Stevens
7, Bird Town, Edgar Prado