Foaled in 2000, the filly Storm Flag Flying came into the world with a proverbial silver spoon waiting for her. She was born at the paragon of old-line success, Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. She was given the attention a leggy daughter of Storm Cat and My Flag (herself the daughter of champion Easy Goer) could command at Claiborne.
[cleeng_content id="537368614" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]The energetic bay was an expensive addition to the racing stock at one of the world’s best-known thoroughbred operations.
And expectations were there that she might have a successful on-track career. Her care was soon given over to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Shug was to tend to the education of a filly whose relatives included Secretariat and undefeated Personal Ensign. Northern Dancer and Bold Ruler. Damascus and Storm Bird. Buckpasser and Native Dancer.
The little girl had the genes necessary to make her a champion.
Shug knew what he had. She could be more precious than diamonds and pearls. The folksy trainer, who had grasped his education about the whys and wherefores of thoroughbreds and racing from Frank Whitely, Jr. and David Whitely, was full of patience and had an unhurried schedule for her.
It cost hundreds of thousands to breed to Storm Cat. That much money can’t be recouped by a two-year-old in the blink of an eye.
McGaughey, the trainer of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, set a course that he had proven could be a rewarding one.
So, by the end of her two-year-old path she was winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and getting the necessary votes to be selected the Eclipse Award winner as U.S. Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year.
In an interesting turn of fate, Storm Flag Flying’s mother had also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
During the uncluttered journey to winning the 2002 Juvenile, she had gotten wins in the Frizette Stakes and the Matron Stakes, both Grade I races.
Shug thought a six-month vacation was in order.
As a three-year-old, Storm Flag Flying debuted with a second-place in the Comely Stakes in New York.
Her next race was the Acorn Stakes, one of the legs of the Triple Crown for fillies. The previously seen near-perfect world would be a thing of the past when she sustained a leg injury in the Acorn and hobbled home in last place.
In only her second race at age three, she was injured badly enough to keep her away from the races until the next spring.
McGaughey’s patience and careful regimen for her meant that time could heal and repair the injury.
Finally back at age four, she showed her merit and ability by winning again.
She defeated Azeri in the Grade I Personal Ensign Handicap. The Personal Ensign was named after Storm Flag Flying’s grandmother. Another win was accomplished in the Shuvee Handicap.
In the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, her racing luck was all bad and she was shuffled back to dead last. As that race progressed, she maneuvered through pockets of thoroughbreds to get nearer to the lead.
She still had work to do because the leader, Ashado, was about eight lengths in front.
Even with her long, ground-eating stride on display, she couldn’t overtake Ashado and was second at the wire.
Claiborne retired her after the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
She was never worse than third in 14 career races except for the time the injury hit in the Acorn Stakes. Her final record showed seven wins, three seconds and three thirds. The career earnings amounted to $1,951,828.
Beginning in 2006, she has produced foals by A. P. Indy, Seeking the Gold, Distorted Humor, Smart Strike and Unbridled’s Song.
Her sons and daughters have also been trained by Shug McGaughey.
Other than the one racing injury she suffered (and then made a complete recovery from to run again), Storm Flag Flying has lived an idyllic life among the massive oaks and bluegrass pastures at stately Claiborne Farm.
The silver spoon was not tarnished. And she lived up to her part of the bargain.[/cleeng_content]