Updated on 09/17/2011 11:02AM

Storm Flag Flying's return may wait


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It is becoming increasingly unlikely that champion 2-year-old filly Storm Flag Flying will make her 3-year-old debut in next Friday's Forward Gal Stakes, trainer Shug McGaughey said Thursday.

"I'm leaning to not [running]," McGaughey said shortly after Storm Flag Flying breezed a half-mile in 50.40 seconds under exercise rider Cecil Putnam. "I'm going to run her when I think she's ready. If she comes back Monday or Tuesday and works real good then maybe. I'm not in any rush with her."

McGaughey is more likely to wait an extra week and run Storm Flag Flying in the $100,000 Cicada Stakes, a seven-furlong race scheduled to be run over Aqueduct's main track March 22. McGaughey would then run Storm Flag Flying in the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct April 18 as a prelude to the Kentucky Oaks May 2.

McGaughey's major objectives for the summer are the $300,000 Mother Goose June 28 at Belmont and the $750,000 Alabama Aug. 16 at Saratoga. Those two races and the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, run July 19, make up New York's revised filly triple crown. Any filly that wins all three races also wins a $2 million bonus.

"I want to have her ready for the races in New York, especially the Mother Goose and Alabama," McGaughey said. "If the Coaching Club works out, that's fine, too."

The recent spate of hot weather in south Florida - temperatures Thursday reached a record-equaling 88 degrees - has prompted McGaughey to take it easy with Storm Flag Flying's training.

"She's gone to the track. I just didn't do a lot with her," McGaughey said.

If nothing else, McGaughey has been extremely pleased with Storm Flag Flying's deportment this winter. Known to pull some antics in the morning last year, she has behaved perfectly on the track this winter.

"I'm pleased with that more for the future," McGaughey said.

Storm Flag Flying has not run since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October, her fourth win in as many starts at 2.

Surpising Florida Derby supplements

It came as little surprise that Robert Ackerman and Barry Golden, the owners of Senor Swinger, put up a $3,000 late nomination fee to keep their runner eligible for the $1 million Florida Derby. Trainer Mickey Goldfine has been pointing the undefeated 3-year-old for the Grade 1 race since he won a first-level allowance race here Jan. 31.

But it raised a few eyebrows when the connections of four other 3-year-olds, Region of Merit, Formal Attire, Tarkovsky, and Colita, also forked over $3,000 apiece before final nominations for the Florida Derby closed Wednesday.

Trainer Christophe Clement has already said he's leaning heavily toward running Region of Merit in the Tampa Bay Derby. Tarkovsky is a maiden who has not hit the board in two starts. Colita finished fifth as the even-money favorite making his stakes debut last month in Tampa's Sam Davis Stakes.

Formal Attire appears to be the one with the best chance of actually competing in the Florida Derby. The son of Formal Gold has already started three times here this winter, winning a maiden race and then running second twice while plagued by bad racing luck in all three outings.

"We just decided to keep our options open," said Phil Serpe, who trains Formal Attire for Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stable. "Carl is coming down this weekend and Formal Attire is scheduled to breeze six furlongs on Sunday. We'll see how that goes and make a decision after that."

Although he's still eligible for a first-level allowance race, Formal Attire would come into the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby with the most experience at the distance of any member of the prospective lineup other than Empire Maker. Formal Attire won a maiden race by a widening 2 3/4 lengths going nine furlongs Feb. 8, then returned and finished a troubled second behind Eugene's Third Son at the same distance two weeks later.

"Everything seemed to go wrong when he got to the three-quarter pole in his last start," Serpe said. "I think this is a horse with a lot of talent, but the trips just haven't worked out to his advantage here this winter. The key focus for us right now is Sunday's work. We don't want to go too far out on the limb with this horse but one of the main reasons we're keeping the door open and are interested in the derby is the prospect the race may come up a short field."

As of Thursday only five horses are committed to the Florida Derby. Along with Senor Swinger and Empire Maker, they are Fountain of Youth winner Trust N Luck, Supah Blitz, and Midway Cat. The only other 3-year-old under serious consideration is Lion Tamer.

Ivanavinalot to Tampa Oaks

Trainer Kathleen O'Connell has decided to pass the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes and a possible rematch with Yell here Friday with Ivanavinalot. Instead, Ivanavinalot is likely for the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Oaks the following Sunday. Ivanavinalot finished second behind the late-charging Yell in the Grade 3 Davona Dale Stakes.

"It looks like the Oaks will come up an easier spot and while I'm not ducking anybody there's no sense running against tougher than you have to at this point in the season," O'Connell said. "I haven't lost any faith in my filly just because she got beat in the Davona Dale. And our ultimate goal remains the Kentucky Oaks."

O'Connell regularly keeps a full contingent of horses at Tampa during the winter along with her regular stable based at Calder. She became the first trainer to saddle four winners on a single card at Tampa Feb. 23.

Miesque's Approval heads Canadian field

Miesque's Approval heads what is shaping up to be an eight-horse field for Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Canadian Turf Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Miesque's Approval, whose three stakes wins include the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup, comes off a fifth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita. He will be the 116-pound starting highweight for trainer Bill Mott. Jerry Bailey, who has won this race six times, has the call.

Also expected to run are Sir Brian's Sword, French Charmer, Rakoon, Serial Bride, Strategic Partner, Political Attack, and possibly Quest Star.

Whywhywhy drills for Swale Stakes

Whywhywhy worked five furlongs in 59 seconds here Thursday morning as he prepares for his next start, the $150,000 Swale Stakes. The seven-furlong dash for 3-year-olds highlights the Florida Derby undercard.

Whywhywhy finished a tiring fifth in the Fountain of Youth.

Others pointing for the Swale include Special Rate, Cajun Beat, Southern Image, Conservation, one of the Allen Jerkens-trained pair of First Blush and Spite the Devil, and possibly Midas Eyes.

* Jerry Bailey took off his mounts for a second straight day Thursday. According to his agent, Ron Anderson, Bailey woke up Wednesday morning feeling sick. Bailey was expected to return to action Friday, where he was named on three horses.