ELMONT, N.Y. -- Trainer Shug McGaughey shoots for his fifth win in the Frizette on Saturday with Matron winner Storm Flag Flying, the 7-5 favorite at the close of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies future book bet.
Storm Flag Flying will be favored among seven 2-year-old fillies in the $500,000 Frizette, one of three Grade 1 Breeders' Cup preps on the Belmont Park program.
None of McGaughey's Frizette winners - Personal Ensign (1986), Preach (1991), Educated Risk (1992), and Heavenly Prize (1993) - captured the Juvenile Fillies. The McGaughey filly who did win the Juvenile Fillies was My Flag, runner-up in the 1995 Frizette and the dam of Storm Flag Flying.
Storm Flag Flying, owned by Ogden Mills Phipps, enters the 1 1/16-mile Frizette following a length win in her career debut and a 12 3/4-length win in the Grade 1 Matron here on Sept. 15.
A Storm Cat filly, Storm Flag Flying raced greenly in her first race at Saratoga after acting up in the paddock. In the Matron, she was more poised and won on a track labeled good. Her experience on a wet track could come in handy if Saturday's forecast for showers holds.
One sign of Storm Flag Flying's lack of experience came in the Matron. When John Velazquez hit her, she changed leads in the stretch for a few strides before changing back to her correct lead.
McGaughey said he is hoping for a Matron repeat, but doesn't want the Frizette to be a hard race because he wants something left in the tank for the Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.
Velazquez rides Storm Flag Flying, who has tactical speed, from post 3.
Fircroft, a closer, figures to benefit from an increase in distance.
Trainer Rusty Arnold said the Matron was a learning experience for Fircroft, who finished third, beaten 13 3/4 lengths. Fircroft was bumped at the start and stumbled, then was squeezed between horses at the top of the stretch.
"She has done well since that race," Arnold said, "and I think it will move her forward."
Fircroft drew post 6 and will be ridden by Pat Day.
Fabulous Brush, the five-length Bassinet winner, and Santa Catarina, the runner-up in the Del Mar Debutante after a tough trip, are legitimate contenders.
"I want a good race out of her and to see where we are at," said Bob Baffert, trainer of Santa Catarina. Jerry Bailey rides Santa Catarina, who drew post 5.
One and Twenty and Fortuitous won divisions of the Grade 3 Natalma on the grass at Woodbine in their last starts. Appleby Gardens, a non-factor in the Spinaway, completes the field.
- additional reporting by David Grening