Updated on 09/17/2011 10:50AM

Shug confidently goes to his bench

"Easy" is how trainer Shug McGaughey describes Yell's win in the Davona Dale last February (above). At the time, Storm Flag Flying was the top 3-year-old filly in his barn - but now it's Yell, who runs in Saturday's Mother Goose.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Being close, personal friends with luminary coaches Bill Parcells and Rick Pitino, trainer Shug McGaughey understands the importance of having a competent backup.

McGaughey was hoping he would be in position Saturday to capture his first Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes with last year's 2-year-old champion filly, Storm Flag Flying. But in two starts this year, Storm Flag Flying has failed to display that form and she will be in the barn Saturday afternoon.

Instead, McGaughey has groomed a more-than-capable replacement in Yell, who in almost any other barn would be top gun. Yell certainly looks ready to fire against only five rivals in the $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park. The Mother Goose is race 9 on an expanded 13-race card that includes two other stakes and two simulcasts.

The Mother Goose is the first leg of New York's revamped Triple Crown for 3-year-old fillies. The Mother Goose, at 1 1/8 miles, was formerly the second leg, sandwiched between the Acorn, at a mile, and Coaching Club American Oaks, at 1 1/2 miles. Now the series concludes with the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 19 and the Alabama on Aug. 16. If a horse wins all three races, she will earn her connections a $2 million bonus.

Also, the Mother Goose begins the third NTRA Summer Pick 3, which includes the Arlington Classic and the Molly Pitcher. All three races will be televised live on CBS from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern.

Storm Flag Flying had already clinched her division championship before Yell debuted as a 2-year-old. Yell finished third in her Nov. 8 debut, then won her maiden three weeks later when she was put up to first via disqualification.

After Yell won an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream by a neck over subsequent Kentucky Oaks and Acorn winner Bird Town, McGaughey thought about sending her to New York for the Busher Stakes but decided against it. Instead, Yell romped to a six-length victory in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.

"I was a little surprised how easy she won the Davona Dale," McGaughey said. "She should have run back in the Bonnie Miss, but she didn't.'

Then, in the Ashland, Yell was inhibited when she broke poorly and tired to fourth after making a bid entering the turn. In the Kentucky Oaks, Yell was bounced around in the first turn and was trapped inside in the stretch before finishing third.

John Velazquez has elected to ride Yell over Roar Emotion, a filly he guided to victory in a pair of Grade 2 stakes. Yell breaks from post 3.

Roar Emotion captured both last year's Demoiselle and this year's Black-Eyed Susan in front-running fashion, and could be the one to catch again, though Rhumb Line has speed as well.

"I'll be shocked if she's any worse than second early," said trainer Carlos Martin, whose filly will break from post 6 under Jose Santos. "I just got a feeling she's going to wind up on the lead again."

Final Round enters the Mother Goose off a good third-place finish in the Acorn. The nine furlongs of the Mother Goose will be the farthest Final Round has ever run, but her mother, Profit Column, won the Carousel Stakes at this distance.

"I would think it would be better for her than worse," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She's doing very, very good. She's going to run a big race."

Edgar Prado becomes the sixth jockey to ride Final Round, who drew the rail.

Spoken Fur, a winner of three straight, makes her first start since a private purchase by John Amerman put the filly in trainer Bobby Frankel's barn. Her off-the-pace style suggests she will handle the distance, and followers of Frankel and Jerry Bailey could get a decent price.

Rhumb Line, who has won her first three starts, gets a class test in the Mother Goose. Her trainer, Frank Alexander, won this race last year with Nonsuch Bay.

Longshot Virgin Voyage rounds out the field.


Mother Goose

Purse: $300,000; 1 1/8 Miles; Grade 1

1Final RoundE. Prado1215-2
2Virgin VoyageJ. Chavez12115-1
3YellJ. Velazquez1219-5
4Spoken FurJ. Bailey1214-1
5Rhumb LineE. Coa12112-1
6Roar EmotionJ. Santos1213-1

- Odds by Brian Pochman

- Television: Saturday, 5-6 p.m. (Eastern), CBS