08/22/2002 11:00PM

Storm Cadet could put his papa on the map

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Storm of Angels, a little-known stallion standing for $2,500 at a farm near Saratoga Springs, could gain some recognition when Storm Cadet runs in the $200,000 Hopeful on Saturday.

Storm of Angels stands at Mill Creek Farm, which is owned by Tim Little and his wife, Anne Morgan, in Stillwater, N.Y. Storm Cadet was born at the 500-acre Mill Creek Farm, located five miles from Saratoga Race Course.

Storm Cadet, from Storm of Angels's third crop, gained a berth to the Grade 1 Hopeful for 2-year-olds by winning his debut over 10 rivals at Saratoga on Aug. 14. Running in a 5 1/2-furlong New York-bred race, Storm Cadet was an eight-length winner while under a hand ride and covered the distance in 1:06.33.

Storm Cadet is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, a racing partnership managed by Terry Finley, and trained by Gary Contessa. Finley purchased Storm of Angels in March at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2-year-old in training auction for $60,000.

Contessa said jumping into a graded stakes in the second start off a maiden win is not an easy task, but he believes that Storm Cadet deserves the opportunity.

"I don't know how good he is; I know there was a lot left in the tank," Contessa said five days after Storm Cadet's win. "The horses behind Zavata in the Saratoga Special looked like they were struggling. Outside the winner, nobody was running at the end. We are going to take a shot. Stranger things have happened."

Contessa wasn't involved in the purchase of Storm Cadet, but the trainer was at the OBS sale and liked what he saw of the 2-year-old, who is out of an Apalachee mare, Kemeka.

"He is big, strong, and everything you want in a racehorse," Contessa said. "We would have run him earlier, but he stepped on a nail."

Before Storm Cadet, Contessa had previous success with the progeny of Storm of Angels. This winter at Aqueduct, Contessa won a maiden race with Tempest Gladiator, who is from Storm of Angels's second crop.

B. E. Stables owns Storm of Angels, an 8-year-old unraced son of Storm Cat. The stallion previously stood at the Rich Farm in Saratoga Springs, until Jill Rich, Storm Cadet's co-breeder, retired and the horse moved to Mill Creek Farm. Storm Cadet's other breeder is Edward Michaels.

If Storm Cadet wins the Hopeful, he will be Storm of Angels' first stakes winner. Storm of Angels has sired 22 winners from 271 starters and his progeny have earned in excess of $360,000.

"This is really exciting, especially since it happened at Saratoga," Anne Morgan said. "Storm of Angels has been bred to a lot of moderate mares, but he might gain some popularity with Storm Cadet."

Honoring New York's finest

Say Florida Sandy, the all-time leading New York-bred in money won, was one of the honorees on Monday evening at the New York Turf Writers Association's annual awards dinner at the Gideon Putnam Hotel.

Say Florida Sandy won the NYTWA's inaugural Big Apple Award. The 8-year-old son of Personal Flag, who is closing in on $2 million in earnings, finished second in the Grade 2 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 10 in his most recent start.

Bred and originally raced by Sanford Bacon, Say Florida Sandy has won 18 stakes, including 14 for his current owner, John Rotella.

Among the seven New York-bred championships won by Say Florida Sandy are Horse of the Year and champion sprinter in 2001.

o The New York Thoroughbred Breeders will hold a board of directors meeting at the NYTB's Saratoga Springs office on Monday.