It didn't take long for anyone with a sense of racing history to start comparing Storm Flag Flying's performance in the Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Arlington Park to that of Personal Ensign's in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). Storm Flag Flying's sudden acceleration appears certain to join Personal Ensign's relentless drive to the wire as an important part of Breeders' Cup history. Personal Ensign, the unbeaten champion granddam of Storm Flag Flying, made up four lengths with a furlong to go to win her Breeders' Cup by a nose over that year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, Winning Colors. Storm Flag Flying also appeared hopelessly beaten, but in a different way. The odds-on favorite, she had pulled ahead nearing the sixteenth pole when rival Composure suddenly passed her. Amazingly, she came back in a matter of a few strides and won by a half-length. In between Personal Ensign and Storm Flag Flying in the female family is the latter's dam, My Flag, who was involved in a close tussle of her own in the 1995 Juvenile Fillies. My Flag closed with a rush to win by a half-length. Storm Flag Flying, whose championship is assured for owner Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps and trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey, completed a unique Breeders' Cup triple with her triumph. It is far much easier for that phenomenon to occur in the male line because of the overwhelming number of descendants associated with stallions, but in fact, it has happened only once. Unbridled, the 1990 Classic (gr. I) winner, sired 1995 Juvenile (gr. I) winner Unbridled's Song, who last year sired Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine. McGaughey's assistant, Buzz Tenney, sees a big difference between Storm Flag Flying and My Flag. The latter was tough enough to take on colts in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and finish third. McGaughey plans to nominate Storm Flag Flying to the 2003 Triple Crown. "My Flag was a tough mare--high strung and a lot of energy," Tenney said. "This filly isn't as tough; she's very manageable. She's great to be around. At the Breeders' Cup, she was grazing one day with 50 members of the media around and never raised her head." The stellar achievements of Personal Ensign, My Flag, and Storm Flag Flying stand as a tribute to their breeder, Ogden Phipps, who raced Personal Ensign and My Flag and owned Storm Flag Flying prior to his death in April. Phipps, who died at age 93, had started in racing in the early 1930s, and bred and raced many of Storm Flag Flying's ancestors on her female side. The list includes My Flag and Personal Ensign's sires, Easy Goer and Private Account, respectively, as well as those two sires' maternal grandsire, Buckpasser. Buckpasser, who appears 4 x 5 in Storm Flag Flying's pedigree, did some of his best racing at Arlington Park. As a 3-year-old in 1966, Buckpasser set a world-record mark of 1:32 3/5 for a mile in the Arlington Classic and also took the Chicagoan Stakes and American Derby in the midst of a 13-race win streak that year. As a stallion at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., Buckpasser came up with Private Account's champion dam, Numbered Account, in his first crop.
Storm Flag Flying, the second foal from My Flag, gave her dam a quick start in the race for Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, maybe not for this year, but definitely for the future. Personal Ensign won the award in 1996 and her dam, Grecian Banner, was the 1988 winner. My Flag and Personal Ensign are boarded at Claiborne. My Flag is in foal to A.P. Indy and is booked to that stallion for 2003. Her first foal, graded stakes-placed On Parade, is in foal to Claiborne stallion Pulpit and is booked to Rahy. Personal Ensign, dam of other grade I winners Miner's Mark and Traditionally, is in foal to Claiborne stallion Monarchos. She is booked to Kingmambo. Storm Flag Flying hasn't been the only member of her female family making headlines this year. Personal Ensign's 11-year-old son, Our Emblem, has earned his way back to Kentucky after his son, War Emblem, won this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Our Emblem started at stud at Claiborne, was sold last fall to E. Allen Murray Jr. and his wife, Audrey, for stallion duty at their Murmur Farm in Maryland, then was purchased by Taylor Made Farm and WinStar Farm this spring to stand at Taylor Made near Nicholasville, Ky. Storm Flag Flying's Breeders' Cup earnings of $520,000 moved the filly's sire, Storm Cat, to second on the 2002 leading sire list. He now is represented by the earners of $5,823,575. Storm Cat, whose fee was $200,000 the year Storm Flag Flying was conceived, stood the 2002 season for $500,000. His 2003 fee will be the same. Storm Cat, who has sired 106 stakes winners, stands at William T. Young's Overbrook Farm near Lexington.