On a rainy day at Belmont Park, Ogden Mills Phipps' favored Storm Flag Flying, in just her second career start, demolished Sunday's 96th running of the $200,000 Matron (gr. I) at a mile for 2-year-olds, winning by 12 3/4 lengths.
Racing third early, the daughter of Storm Cat out of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner My Flag made a big move on the turn to catch runner-up Wild Snitch, who had outdueled Vasquez for the lead after early fractions of :22 2/5 and :46 on a good track. After taking command, Storm Flag Flying had only herself to overcome in deep stretch as she ran somewhat erratically for jockey John Velazquez to the wire.
The final timefor the Shug McGaughey trainee was 1:38 2/5, including a 26-second final quarter.
"I figured she'd show more speed stretching out from three quarters to a mile, but I was even surprised with how much more speed she had today," said Velazquez. "I had to grab a hold of her down the backside. I wanted to be outside. I think that's the better part of the track. When I asked her for run at the top of the stretch she took off. She switched her leads perfect, but she shied away from the whip. She's not used to being spanked. I got her back on her right lead. She was a lot better behaved today. She was a completely different horse today."
"I wasn't surprised but I was pleased to see her show that kind of speed," said McGaughey. "Her mom never showed that kind of speed.
"Johnny (Velazquez) said she was very aggressive away from the gate today," he added. "I kind of liked hearing that. It looks like now going a distance of ground if she had to be, she could be on the lead. That's something different for me."
McGaughey said Storm Flag Flying would be aimed at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Oct. 26 at Arlington Park, but may also run her in the Frizette.(gr. I) Oct. 5.
It was the second major victory in two days for a Phipps Stable homebred. Pure Prize, out of another Phipps champion, Heavenly Prize, won Saturday's $400,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II).
Wild Snitch held onto second, with Fircroft overcoming traffic trouble to finish third.
Although a grade one race, only one horse in the seven-horse field had a graded stakes victory. Wild Snitch won the Sorority (gr. III) at Monmouth Aug. 25.
Ben Perkins Jr., trainer of Wild Snitch, said his filly would probably look for a shorter race,
"If she comes back well, we'll probably cut her back to the Astarita" (gr. II) at 6 ½ furlongs Oct. 13, he said.
Storm Flag flying was coming off a maiden win at Saratoga Aug. 18 in her only previous outing. The $120,000 winning purse improved her earnings to $147,000.
She paid $4.80, $2.90 and $2.10. Wild Snitch returned $3 and $2.20. Fircroft paid $2.10.
The Matron has often featured horses owned by the Phipps Family. Owner-breeder Ogden Mills Phipps also won the Matron in 1974 with Alpine Lass. His late father, Ogden Phipps, won the Matron four times with Queen of the Stage (1967), Numbered Account (1971), Oh What a Windfall (1998) and Finder's Fee
McGaughey also won the Matron with Oh What a Windfall (1998), Finder's Fee (1999) and Storm Flag Flying (2002).