My Flag, Grade 1 winner and dam of champion Storm Flag Flying, died April 12, after producing a healthy Bernardini colt. My Flag was 21.
The Saratoga Special talked to trainer Shug McGaughey about My Flag and 31 of his best horses in 2004, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The collection is part of the Best of The Saratoga Special, a book we produced after five years of publishing The Special.
The big mare was buried at Claiborne Farm.
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“My Flag came in and, of course, she was by Easy Goer out of Personal Ensign so we had tremendously high hopes for her. It took a while to get her off the sides of the barn at Belmont, but she could run. She won her first start, came from way back, and (Jerry) Bailey rode her. And then we ran her up here (Saratoga) in an allowance race and she was really tough in the paddock and she finished third.
“Then we took her back to Belmont, she finished third in the Matron. So we were pretty happy because at least we got some black type on her. Then I ran back in the Frizette and she was second. So we went to the Breeders’ Cup, you know, we had pretty high expectations for her. And it was at Belmont, came up an off track. She came from the back and she was able to get up in time to win the Breeders’ Cup as a 2-year-old.
“That was pretty exciting because her mother had won, and now the daughter had won. Especially with a filly with that kind of pedigree, to win a race of that significance. Then we gave her a little bit of time in the winter and I brought her back and I ran her in the Davona Dale and she finished second. I ran her back in the Bonnie Miss and she won. And then she won the Ashland and I took her to the Kentucky Oaks and I’m sure she was the favorite, and didn’t run a jump over that track. Easy Goer wouldn’t run over it either. I don’t think Personal Ensign particularly liked it, even though she won, that was not her best race.
“And then Mr. Phipps wanted to run her in the Belmont which I didn’t really have a problem with. She ran credible, she was third (to Editor’s Note and Skip Away). And then she ran back in the Coaching Club (American) Oaks and she won that, pretty handy, too. I was kind of looking forward to that, going a mile and a quarter . . . I’d skipped the Mother Goose cause it was close to the Belmont, and brought her up here and ran her in the Alabama and she finished third, kind of got in a tangle. She was big, and from where she came from she shot into trouble and couldn’t get her going again. So, we were disappointed, kind of had a bit of a reason. Then we ran her back in the Gazelle and she won that.
“She was a mix of both (parents). She was big, she looked more like him color-wise and stuff, but she was bigger. Sort of had both their running styles, coming from the back. Natural distance horse. She really wanted to run a long way. Still was pretty rough to be around, she was big, but she got better the more we raced her. Took her to Canada and ran her in the Breeders’ Cup, she finished fourth. I was hoping she’d do better but when you look back on it, it probably wasn’t that bad of a race. And then her 4-year-old year, she didn’t run much, she had some ankles on her and I guess they were probably bugging her a little bit. Then we retired her, and for her first foal, we bred her to Storm Cat, and her first foal was a filly called On Parade that had her running style.”
Next insertion will be Shug talking about On Parade. The next one will be Shug about Storm Flag Flying, then Personal Ensign and, why not, Easy Goer after that…