03/25/2017 3:23PM

Bluegrass Flag wins scratch-depleted Cicada Stakes

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Robert Mauhar/NYRA
Bluegrass Flag rolls to a six-length victory under Kendrick Carmouche in the Cicada for 3-year-old fillies.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Tom Morley was quite confident in Bluegrass Flag when a five-horse field was carded for Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct. His confidence only grew when Wilburnmoney and Sounds Delicious both scratched from the race due to illness.

“One of them’s already beaten me, and the other one’s unbeaten, so yeah, I had a bit of a smile on my face when I checked scratches this morning,” Morley said.

Morley’s smile broadened in the afternoon as he watched Bluegrass Flag cruise to a front-running, six-length victory in the Cicada, for 3-year-old fillies. Heavenly Score finished second, one length in front of Tiz Rae Anna.

Wilburnmoney, who defeated Bluegrass Flag in the Franklin Square Stakes here last month, and Sounds Delicious, unbeaten in three starts, both scratched due to temperatures. According to trainer Linda Rice, Sounds Delicious had a 103.8-degree temperature Saturday morning and was brought to the Cornell Ruffian Equine Hospital across the street from Belmont Park for treatment.

Breaking from the outside post under Kendrick Carmouche, Bluegrass Flag outraced Heavenly Score for the lead, opening up a one-length advantage after a quarter in 23.66 seconds. Carmouche kept Bluegrass Flag in the 3 path, and Rajiv Maragh, aboard Heavenly Score, tried to make a race out of it around the turn from the inside.

Turning for home, Bluegrass Flag opened up two lengths and, with two cracks from Carmouche’s whip, drew clear. Bluegrass Flag, a daughter of Bluegrass Cat owned by Thomas Albrecht and Vincent Fusaro, covered the six furlongs in 1:11.99 and returned $2.60 to win.

“I don’t take them out of their stride,” Carmouche said. “She broke really good, the track looked like it was playing outside speed, so I just kept her in good [position], let her relax down the backside, and she just went on from there. I asked her a little and put the stick away.”

The Cicada proved to be the best of both worlds for Morley, who plans to wheel Bluegrass Flag back in four weeks in the Park Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Series going 6 1/2 furlongs over Aqueduct’s main track on April 23.

“I was kind of pleased [Heavenly Score] came to us halfway around the turn because it almost looked likes [Bluegrass Flag] was half idling in front, and Kendrick said she never really came out of third gear,” Morley said. “She didn’t have a hard race today. It shouldn’t bring too many fears. Hopefully, she’s all good tomorrow morning, one work and into the Stallion Series.”