05/15/2004 12:00AM

Storm Flag Flying in the nick of time

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Storm Flag Flying, John Velazquez up, scored a half-length victory in Saturday's Shuvee Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. - In a dramatic finish, Storm Flag Flying won Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 at Belmont Park, her first stakes win since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park in 2002.

Storm Flag Flying was up in time for a half-length win over Passing Shot in the Shuvee, which was run at a mile. Roar Emotion finished third, a nose behind Passing Shot.

With John Velazquez in the saddle, Storm Flag Flying raced in fourth behind pacesetter Cherokee Light, who zipped through a half-mile in 46.76 seconds. At the top of the stretch, the six-horse field was tightly bunched. Passing Shot came up the rail for a narrow lead and battled with Roar Emotion down the stretch. Storm Flag Flying, the even-money favorite, charged down the lane three wide and collared the leaders in the final strides.

She ducked in under Velazquez's right-handed whip with a furlong remaining.

"I don't think she cares a lot for the whip," said McGaughey, who won the Shuvee for a fourth time. "[Velazquez] said he sort of coaxed her after that."

Storm Flag Flying ($4) covered the distance in 1:36.10 over a fast track. Final Round, Elegant Mercedes, and Cherokee Lite completed the order of the finish.

Storm Flag Flying, owned by Ogden Mills Phipps, was named champion juvenile filly after her undefeated season in 2002. In her 2003 campaign, she ran twice, finishing second in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct and sixth in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont in June. After the Acorn, Storm Flag Flying was sent to the sidelines with a leg injury. This year, Storm Flag Flying had won an optional claimer and was third in the Distaff Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct in March.