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Exfactor's Return Has Flint Dreaming About Derby

| Churchill Downs Communications | 11/12/2011 #
  • Stoneway Farm's Exfactor in his victory in the GIII Bashford Manor (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Trainer Bernie Flint (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Clark Handicap candidate Mission Impazible, shown in a gallop prior to the 2010 Kentucky Derby. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Scotus, winner of the GIII Matt Winn, tries to snap a three-race losing streak Sunday at Churchill Downs. (Reed Palmer, CD)

FLINT HAS KENTUCKY DERBY DREAMS FOR BASHFORD MANOR WINNER EXFACTOR Exfactor, an impressive 2 ¾-length winner of the Bashford Manor (Grade III) beneath the Twin Spires in July, is back in serious training after taking the summer off and the colt’s autumn activity has veteran trainer Bernie Flint dreaming about a special day at Churchill Downs in the spring.

The gray colt son of Exchange Rate breezed four furlongs on the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning in :48.40.  The move pleased Flint, who hopes Exfactor has what it takes to become his first career starter in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

“What we’re trying to do is get him to the Kentucky Derby,” Flint said. “That’s what everyone is trying to do. Whether we get there or not is another question.”

Exfactor recorded fractions of :11.80 and :23.40 in a work that was the third fastest of 40 at the distance.

Stoneway Farm LLC’s Exfactor raced three times at Churchill Downs during the 38-day Spring Meet. He finished second behind Sum of the Parts in his career debut and then broke his maiden by 4 ½ lengths in his second start. The Bashford Manor win was the third start for Exfactor and then he was turned out. He recorded his first work in nearly four months at Churchill Downs on Oct. 30.

“He was tired so we turned him out at the farm for a few months,” Flint said. “Nothing was wrong with him; he just needed a break. I want a fresh horse for next spring, not a burnt-out horse for the winter.

“All the 2-year-olds that ran all summer and in the Breeders’ Cup are tired,” Flint said. “You have to stop on them sometime and give them a break, but when are you going to stop on them now? You can’t.”

Flint, who is fourth all-time in training wins at Churchill Downs with 433, strongly believes that young horses should be given plenty of time to develop and was reminded of this the last time he went against his own philosophy with a precocious 2-year-old.

“I learned my lesson with Unbridled Express. We beat (eventual Kentucky Derby winner) Street Sense in a maiden race (at Churchill Downs). I thought we’d run him seven-eighths and then run him long, so we brought him (Unbridled Express) back in the Hopeful (GI). He ran third behind Circular Quay and Scat Daddy and came out of the race with a cracked pastern.

"The writing is on the wall,” Flint said. “You’ve got to give those (young) horses a break.”

Unbridled Express would return to the track six months after the Hopeful to run second in an allowance at Oaklawn Park prior to an eighth-place finish in an allowance at Churchill Downs. The latter was the final start of his career.

Flint has since not steered away from his philosophy and now that Exfactor has had his rest and relaxation it is time to start looking for a spot for him to return to the races.

“He worked really well today and we’ll bring him to Fair Grounds with us and put him in a stake somewhere,” Flint said. “I’m not exactly sure where he’ll run though.”

Bred in Kentucky by Bo Hirsch LLC, Exfactor was purchased at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings Sale for $27,000. His lifetime earnings currently stand at $109,348.

MISSION IMPAZIBLE WORKS TOWARD CLARK HANDICAP Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC’s Mission Impazible, a narrowly-beaten runner-up earlier this year in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI), breezed five furlongs Saturday in preparation for a run in the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) to be run beneath the Twin Spires on Nov. 25.

The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Unbridled’s Song covered the distance on the fast main track prior to the renovation break in 1:00.80.

Working on his own, Mission Impazible recorded fractions of :12.40, :24.40, :36.60, :48.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven furlongs in 1:28.40. The five-furlong work was the sixth fastest of 47 at the distance.

“I’m happy with the work,” assistant trainer Michael McCarthy said. “He’s always been a decent work horse, but I thought today was a nice move for him. The track seemed to be playing a little slow today, but he still went well. He likes this track.”

Mission Impazible, who finished a neck behind Pool Play in the Stephen Foster Handicap, will enter the Clark off a ninth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the Fayette (GII) on the synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland.

"I think the only excuse is that he didn’t handle the Polytrack,” McCarthy said. “I would draw a line through that race.”

Mission Impazible could face a very tough group of horses in the Clark as the list of nominations for the 137th running of the 1 1/8-mile race includes several Grade I stakes winners, led by Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) winner Flat Out, Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Ruler On Ice and defending Clark winner Giant Oak.

The race is always a pretty decent heat, but this year’s race could be very good,” McCarthy said.

Mission Impazible, whose career is highlighted by wins in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and New Orleans Handicap (GII), has a record of 3-4-2 in 14 lifetime starts and earnings of $948,563.

SCOTUS RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS IN SUNDAY ALLOWANCEScotus, winner of the Matt Winn Presented by Emirates Equestrian Federation (Grade III) at Churchill Downs in June, returns to the site of his most prestigious victory in Sunday’s featured ninth race, an allowance/optional claiming event for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Peter Callahan’s Scotus has raced three times since his Matt Winn triumph, finishing seventh in the Jim Dandy (GII) at Saratoga, fifth in the Smarty Jones at Parx and most recently third in an allowance race over at Keeneland’s Polytrack.

“He’s doing really well and he likes it here (at Churchill Downs),” trainer Ken McPeek said. “This should be a good spot for him.”

Scotus, a 3-year-old son of Successful Appeal, was hindered by a wide trip after breaking from post 12 in his most recent start at Keeneland.

“He ran well, but got hung extremely wide around both turns,” McPeek said. “He probably would have won that race with a better post.”

Scotus appears to have drawn a “better post” for Sunday’s race at Churchill Downs and will break from post six under Manny Cruz in the field of nine.

WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockey over the last five racing days (Nov. 5-11) is Julien Leparoux (11-for-36). Mike Maker (6-for-18) is the hottest trainer over the same period. Ken and Sarah Ramsey (4-for-13) is the hottest owner.

WORKTABJohn Oxley’s Spirited Miss breezed five furlongs on a fast main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning in 1:02.40 for trainer Mark Casse. Spirited Miss, who was second by a head in the Mazarine at Woodbine in her most recent start, is nominated to the $150,000-added Golden Rod (Grade II), which is to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track beneath the Twin Spires on Nov. 26.