Storm Flag Flying, winning the Frizette.

Storm Flag Flying, winning the Frizette.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Champion Storm Flag Flying Works Toward Acorn

Storm Flag Flying, last year's Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly, worked three-eighths of a mile in :36 4/5 Tuesday at Belmont Park in preparation for Friday's Acorn Stakes (gr. I).

"I didn't want her to do too much," said trainer Shug McGaughey, noting that he would have preferred the work to have been conducted Sunday or Monday but was unable to do so due to inclement weather in New York. "I got over here early yesterday to see what the track was like. It was good but not fast. We've been working around the weather. As it warms up, she will get better and better."

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.

"It was her first race in six months," McGaughey said of Storm Flag Flying's Comely effort. "She caught a speed-favoring track. She was close enough, but she was down on the inside part of the track. It wasn't the best effort, and it wasn't the worst."

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. McGaughey will be going for his third Acorn victory, having won the race with Finder's Fee (1999) and Inside Information (1994). Last year, her pre-race antics were legendary. According to McGaughey, she's settled down as a 3-year-old.

"When we're ready to go, she's ready to go," he said. "She has her quirks, and they are more around the barn. She'll stop and stand in the shedrow now and then.

"I think she'll run good," McGaughey said. "The Acorn will get her to the next step. Hopefully she'll run again in three weeks, and again in three weeks, and then it's another three weeks to the Alabama (gr. I)."
The one-mile Acorn is likely to have a field of six 3-year-old fillies, four of whom are coming off winning efforts.

"Lady Tak -- a mile is what she wants to do," McGaughey said while sizing up the competition. "House Party -- she was a winner when they broke out of the gate last time. And (trainer) Rusty's (Arnold) filly seems really good."

Lady Tak, winner of the one-mile Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds in late January. The Steve Asmussen-trained filly also won the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr .II) before running second in Ashland (gr. I) and sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). House Party comes into the Acorn off a three-length score in the Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at seven furlongs. The Belmont-based daughter of French Deputy is trained by Allen Jerkens and has a 4-2-2 slate from nine starts for owner/breeder Joseph V. Shields Jr. Final Round, trained by Rusty Arnold for G. Watts Humphrey, is coming in off a one-length victory in the seven-furlong La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.