06/03/2003 12:00AM

Storm Flag Flying begins again


ELMONT, N.Y. - After an uninspiring performance in her first start of the year, Storm Flag Flying will try to revert to her championship form Friday when she heads a seven-horse field entered in the Grade 1, $250,000 Acorn at Belmont Park.

The Acorn and the Grade 3, $100,000 Flash Stakes for juvenile colts highlight a 10-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Eastern. The Acorn, no longer the first leg of New York's triple crown for 3-year-old fillies, kicks off a daily double wager that is tied to the Belmont Stakes.

Storm Flag Flying, a daughter of Storm Cat out of the multiple Grade 1 winner My Flag, went undefeated as a 2-year-old. She won a pair of Grade 1 stakes at Belmont Park and then showed great courage battling back after relinquishing the lead to Composure in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park.

Storm Flag Flying did not make her first start as a 3-year-old until the Grade 3 Comely Stakes on April 18 at Aqueduct, where she finished a non-threatening second behind loose-on-the-lead winner Cyber Secret.

"Maybe I should have started her a little earlier," said trainer Shug McGaughey. "I don't know. We'll know that in the fall. Our big plans were the big races in New York over the summer. [She] caught a very speed-favoring track; the [rail] post didn't help any, down on the inside. She kind of got roughed up a little bit going down the backside. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst.''

Storm Flag Flying drew the rail again for the Acorn. Tuesday, Storm Flag Flying blew out three furlongs in 36.93 seconds over Belmont's main track.

McGaughey does not believe Storm Flag Flying has anything to prove on Friday.

"Whether she wins or not on Friday, I think she'll prove what she needs to prove when the time comes,'' McGaughey said. "She won the right races last fall - the Matron, Frizette, and the Breeders' Cup.''

The Acorn begins an ambitious campaign for Storm Flag Flying that is expected to include the Mother Goose (June 28), Coaching Club American Oaks (July 19), and Alabama (Aug. 16 at Saratoga). The New York Racing Association has restructured its triple crown for fillies and will award a $2 million bonus if any filly can sweep those three races.

Storm Flag Flying's competition on Friday will be significantly better than what she faced in the Comely. Bird Town, who upset the Kentucky Oaks; Final Round, who won the La Troienne; and House Party, winner of the Nassau County, are all coming off graded stakes wins.

Lady Tak, sixth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, may appreciate shortening up to a one-turn mile. Randaroo is a neck away from being undefeated, but steps up in class. She was scratched from the Nassau County after developing a lung infection the day before the race. Kitty Knight, a stablemate of House Party, completes the field.

Pletcher entry looks solid in Flash

With the coupled entry of Korsakoff and Chapel Royal, trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Flash Stakes.

Off an impressive maiden win at Keeneland, Korsakoff was made the 1-2 favorite in the Three Chimneys Juvenile at Churchill, but finished sixth. Chapel Royal is coming off a 9 1/4-length victory in a May 15 maiden race at Belmont.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out Hasslefree, who comes off a 5 3/4-length victory in an April 24 maiden race. Exploit Lad, third in the May 26 Kentucky Breeders' Cup at Churchill, Juventus, and Mighty Awesome complete the field.

Due to the short field, the Flash Stakes has been moved from the ninth race to the seventh race and will be shown on tape-delay on ESPN. Also Friday, superfecta wagering will be offered on the ninth, not the 10th race.