03/19/2004 12:00AM

'Storm Flag' needs rider for Distaff


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Storm Flag Flying beat the snowstorm by one day and arrived in New York to continue her spring campaign on Thursday.

Storm Flag Flying, the 2-year-old champion filly in 2002, will run next in the $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct on March 27. In the seven-furlong Distaff, Storm Flag Flying is expected to meet Randaroo, who has won four graded stakes in her last five starts.

Storm Flag Flying, trained by Shug McGaughey, raced only twice last year before she was sidelined with a leg injury. She returned to the races for the first time since June in an optional claimer on Feb. 26 at Gulfstream Park. She won the mile and 70-yard race by 3 3/4 lengths as the heavy favorite. It was Storm Flag Flying's first win since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park in 2002.

"I was very pleased with the race; she did everything right that day," McGaughey said of Storm Flag Flying's comeback.

When she runs in the Grade 2 Distaff, Storm Flag Flying will be without her regular partner, John Velazquez. Velazquez is scheduled to ride in Dubai that day.

As of Thursday, McGaughey said he hadn't decided upon a rider to replace Velazquez, but wasn't concerned about finding one.

"I knew going in that [Velazquez] wasn't going to be able to ride," he said. "I wouldn't think she was a difficult horse to ride; nobody has told me she's a problem."

Because of the presence of Storm Flag Flying and Randaroo, the racing office expects a small field for the Distaff. The only other definite is Fit Performer. Chirimoya, Gazillion, Zawooth, and Se Me Acabo are listed as possible.

Possibility returns from long layoff

McGaughey won a maiden race with Lead the Parade, a half-brother to Storm Flag Flying, on Thursday at Aqueduct. Sunday, McGaughey will run Possibility, whose dam, Personal Ensign, also produced My Flag, Storm Flag Flying's mother.

Friday's entire nine-race card was scrapped because of snow and brought back as the Sunday program. There wasn't a stakes race scheduled for Sunday.

Possibility is one of seven runners in the feature, a $44,000 allowance race for older fillies and mares. The first-level allowance race will be run at a mile.

Possibility, a 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy, hasn't run since Oct. 3 when she won a seven-furlong maiden race by 2 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park in her second start. McGaughey said he had the opportunity to run Possibility at Gulfstream Park during the winter, but felt she wasn't ready.

"She's not a big strong filly," McGaughey said. "Before [Possibility] was foaled, Personal Ensign had problems foaling the year before and we didn't know if she would get in foal again. [Possibility] was always a bit immature."

Possibility, who has a steady pattern of works at Gulfstream for Sunday's race, drew the rail.

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