10/20/2002 11:00PM

BC Countdown - Juvenile Fillies: Storm Flag Flying gets a change


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Shug McGaughey on Monday decided to shake things up a little bit for Storm Flag Flying in her final workout before Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

McGaughey worked Storm Flag Flying in company with jockey John Velazquez rather than by herself with an exercise rider. The change seemed to do Storm Flag Flying some good, as she cruised four furlongs in 48.92 seconds, getting her last quarter in 23.87 seconds. She galloped out another furlong in 12.05 seconds. It was a move superior to her three-furlong breeze last week.

"I think a change helps her," said McGaughey, noting he worked Storm Flag Flying with a maiden filly Arabis. "I just wanted something to kind of be there because I think the trick to this is going to be a good, clean break and to be there in the race, like she was in the Frizette."

In the Frizette, Storm Flag Flying raced just off pace-setting Santa Catarina before taking command approaching the stretch. It was her third victory in as many starts and stamped her as the Juvenile Fillies favorite.

The field for the Juvenile Fillies was reduced to 11 when Aidan O'Brien revealed that Reach for the Moon had suffered a fractured cannon bone, and will be out until next year.

Velazquez hadn't worked Storm Flag Flying since before she debuted at Saratoga in August.

"She's more aggressive [now] than the first time I breezed her in Saratoga," he said.

"She's not rank, but she gives you a good pull. But at the same time she lets you get her to relax a little bit. I kind of sat pretty much on her. I know her well enough where if she opens up a length she's going to ease up. I sat and waited for the other horse to get head-and-head with her to let her work. I didn't do too much to her and let her gallop out another eighth.''

Westerly Breeze fires bullet

Westerly Breeze, the Alcibiades winner, worked five furlongs under exercise rider Tracy Wilkes in 1:00.80 Monday at Churchill Downs, the best of 46 moves at the distance over a good track. The move came a week after she worked five furlongs in 1:02.80.

"She was right on top of it, did it easy and punched down the lane," trainer Carl Nafzger said. "The other day all we wanted was a good finish."

* Sea Jewel will wear blinkers in the Juvenile Fillies. Monday, at Santa Anita, she worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company while wearing blinkers.