Front-running Cyber Secret, a former claimer, handed champion Storm Flag Flying the first defeat of her career in Friday's $107,900 Comely Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct Park.With Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, Cyber Secret took the lead from the break, opening a seven-length lead near the eighth pole and coasted home comfortably 5 1/2 lengths in front in a time for the one mile event of 1:35 4/5 on a fast track.Storm Flag Flying, the Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top 2-year-old filly last year and the future book favorite for this year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), was making her 2003 debut. Breaking from the inside, she was under pressure from jockey John Velazquez to stay with Cyber Secret on the backstretch and lacked a response when the pacesetter shook loose at the top of the stretch. Storm Flag Flying finished second, three lengths in front of Bonay in the five-horse field.The winner clicked off fractions of :23 1/5 for the opening quarter-mile, :45 1/5 for the half and 1:10 for six furlongs. Storm Flag Flying, starting from the inside stall, was third away from the gate. Velazquez took her off the rail and hustled her into position to challenge for the lead on the backstretch, but she never got to even terms with Cyber Secret."This is huge," exclaimed Bridgmohan "It is real nice. She threw her ears up, relaxed real well on the backstretch and just went out and did it nice. I could feel that I had horse on the far turn, and I could hear everyone else starting to smooch a little. I knew we were going to be tough to run down. I kept her in a drive; I was taking no prisoners. Storm flag Flying is a champion and I wasn't going to wait for her to get even with us." Storm Flag Flying won all four of her starts in 2002, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, the Frizette and the Matron, all grade I races.Trainer Shug McGaughey wasn't disheartened by the loss, but he practically ruled out the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 2 as a possibility.
"She hadn't run in six months and was going from two (years old) to three," McGaughey said. "They ran in 35 and change going down the backside, and she was hung down inside. She was kind of even from there. We've got something to work with now. "This was the race I was really nervous about because it had been awhile since she had run and she was catching a filly (Cyber Secret) that has been running good over this track," McGaughey said. "We just weren't good enough today, but she will be later on. She's been fine. She got a little hot going back to the gate, but that's to be expected. I'm not entirely shocked. Of course, I'm disappointed that she got beat because she has never been beat before. We'll see how she comes out of this. "We've got a little time, if we point to the Acorn (gr. I, one mile on June 6). The Nassau County is coming up, too (gr. II, seven furlongs on May 10). We might have to change our directions a little bit."
A $20,000 Florida-bred daughter of Cyberspace, Cyber Secret was coming off a 4 1/2-length triumph in the seven-furlong Cicada (gr. III) at Aqueduct on March 22. She won her fourth race in the last five starts since easing in the Astarita (gr. II) on a sloppy track at Belmont on Oct. 13 for owners Irwin Goldfarb and Team Julep Stable and trainer Richard Dutrow.The victory, worth $64,740, was her fifth in eight career starts with total earnings of $244,707."Our filly ran a huge race today, and things went our way," said
Dutrow. "I was hoping for something like this, but I wasn't expecting it." Dutrow's long-range plans include Saratoga's Test (gr. I) for Cyber Secret, who he claimed for $65,000 there last August. "I think a mile might be her limit; we don't really want to experiment any farther than that," Dutrow said.Sent off as the 7-2 second choice, Cyber Secret paid $9, $2.10 and $2.10. Storm Flag Flying returned $2.10 and $2.10. Bonay showed for $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $15.There was $1,370,849 wagered to show on the Comely, of which $1,306,144 was bet on favored Storm Flag Flying, causing a minus show pool of $236,737.31. There was a minus place pool of 2,626.47. (Chart, Equibase)