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Exfactor on the Road to the Louisiana Derby

Exfactor wins the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs (Eric Patterson/Eclipse Sportswire)
New Year’s Day looms two weeks away, so it’s not too early to start thinking about the road leading up to the $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1.

 

That road is paved with the stepping stones of good intentions, and veteran Thoroughbred trainer Bernie Flint might very well be rewarded for those intentions by deciding to bring his promising juvenile colt Exfactor along slowly. After his promising stakes debut in last summer’s Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs on Fourth of July weekend, Exfactor went to the sidelines, not to return until Dec. 17 in the six-furlong $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds.

 

“The man that owns this horse (Jim Stone) has his own farm (Stoneway Farm in LaGrange, Ky.),” Flint said on the morning after Exfactor won the Sugar Bowl. “This colt had showed me some promise since I got him, but he was a little on the small side, so after the Bashford Manor I decided to turn him out for five and a half months and let him grow up and be a horse.

 

“It used to be, you could give a horse all the time he needed to grow up, but with the money they’re giving away these days, with the Breeders’ Cup and these other rich races, sometimes owners can’t afford to let you do that.

 

“Fortunately, Mr. Stone let me take my time with this horse,” Flint said, “so hopefully now I have a nice horse for a winter campaign here at Fair Grounds and I’ve given him the proper time to get him ready for the classic distances that will be coming along later.

 

“I really was planning to run him long in his first race back after I got him down here,” said Flint. “In fact, I came very close to not running him yesterday, but that race came up just perfect for him yesterday and will save me a lot of work. I think one race helps a lot more than a whole bunch of works. Now, after yesterday, I don’t have to mess around with a lot of works with this horse. He got those yesterday.”

 

Exfactor didn’t have the easiest of races in the Sugar Bowl. After being allowed to settle, Exfactor challenged for command at the furlong marker and then out-dueled a very game Laurie’s Rocket, owned by Willis Horton, by a nose in their hard drive to the wire. However, Laurie’s Rocket’s previous trip to the post had come four weeks earlier, not five and a half months ago.

 

“That other horse is a very nice horse and ran a very big race,” said Flint in post-race comments Saturday when speaking of Laurie’s Rocket, “and I have to take my hat off to him.”

 

What will be under consideration now for Louisiana Derby Early Bird nominee Exfactor, providing things continue to go well, will be the Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 21, the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 25 and the 99th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby April 1, final day of Fair Grounds’ 2011-2012 season.

 

 

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