Factor It In Powers to $100,000 Fire Plug Victory

Factor It In Powers to $100,000 Fire Plug Victory

Fille d’Esprit Rebounds in $100,000 What a Summer
Plot the Dots Becomes Stakes Winner in $75,000 Jennings
Award Wanted Takes Inside Route to $75,000 Geisha Win

LAUREL, MD – Michael Scheffres’ multiple Grade 3-placed Factor It In continued his career-best form Saturday at Laurel Park by cruising to this third stakes victory in five starts, a two-length triumph in the $100,000 Fire Plug.

The 6 ½-furlong Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up was the fourth of six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on a Winter Sprintfest program headlined by the $100,000 Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies.

Maryland’s first stakes of 2023 also included the $100,00 Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up and $100,000 What a Summer for fillies and mares 4 and older and a pair of $75,000 events restricted to older Maryland-bred/sired horses – the Geisha for females and Jennings.

With Angel Cruz up for trainer Carlos Mancilla, Factor It In covered the distance in 1:18.01 over a fast main track for his second straight win after capping 2022 in the Dec. 30 Dave’s Friend at Laurel.

Factor It In, a 7-year-old son of The Factor, also won the Challedon against fellow Maryland-bred/sired horses last fall and ran third in back-to-back Grade 3 stakes in New York – the Bold Ruler and Fall Highweight – beaten less than a length combined.

“Carlos and his brother Oscar, they do such a spectacular job not only on this horse but on all our horses,” Scheffres said. “They work so hard and they’re such a great team. I’m so lucky to have them.”

Five Dreams, runner-up in the six-furlong Blitzen Jan. 4 at Parx, and 40-1 long shot Air Token, winner of the 2021 Maryland Million Sprint, dueled through an opening quarter-mile in 23.51 seconds and a half in 46.62 as Cruz kept Factor It In in the clear in third. Factor It In launched his bid midway around the far turn and set his sights on the leaders once straightened for home, powering through the stretch under Cruz who wrapped up approaching the wire.

“I was afraid Angel might try to go to the front and I haven’t seen much speed go wire to wire today. I kept asking Carlos, ‘Do you think Angel is going to go to the front?’” Scheffres said. “He did it exactly the way I would have wanted. It was perfect.

Yodel E. A. Who came with a late run to be second, a length in front of Five Dreams, with another half-length back to multiple stakes winner Alwaysinahurry. Savoy, Karan’s Notion, Air Token and Al Loves Josie completed the order of finish. Pirate Rick and Beren were scratched.

Fire Plug was a stakes winner every year from age 3 to 7. The popular gelding won or placed in 49 of 54 career starts with half his 28 victories coming in stakes including the J. Edgar Hoover, Maryland Breeders’ Cup and Roman handicaps. Twice graded-stakes placed including the 1991 General George (G2), he was retired later that year at the age of 8 with $705,175 in purse earnings.

Fille d’Esprit Rebounds in $100,000 What a Summer

C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit, beaten as the favorite in her season finale last month, rebounded with an emphatic 5 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 What a Summer, her 7-year-old debut.

It was the second stakes win of the day for trainer Jerry Robb, who captured the $75,000 Geisha for older Maryland-bred/sired females with Award Wanted. Jockey Xavier Perez was aboard.

Swayin to and Fro went off as the 4-5 favorite on the strength of back-to-back stakes wins at Laurel by 10 combined lengths, most recently in the Dec. 30 Willa On the Move, a race where Fille d’Esprit ran fourth. Swayin to and Fro and fellow multiple stakes winner Dontletsweetfoolya raced together up front going a quarter-mile in 22.52 seconds.

Fille d’Esprit, who won the Maryland Million Distaff and Politely in succession prior to the Willa On the Move, moved up to second behind Swayin to and Fro after Dontletsweetfoolya dropped back following a half in 46.45. Fille d’Esprit overtook Swayin to and Fro at the top of the stretch and opened up, covering the distance in 1:11.70.

Swayin to and Fro was second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of 18-1 long shot Snicket, while Fouette edged Dontletsweetfoolya for fourth. Disco Ebo was scratched.

The What a Summer honors the Maryland-bred mare that was named the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter and Maryland’s Horse of the Year in 1977. The Maryland-bred Hall of Famer won 18 of 31 career starts including the Fall Highweight Handicap (G2) and Silver Spoon Handicap twice, Maskette Handicap (G2) and Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

Plot the Dots Becomes Stakes Winner in $75,000 Jennings

Built Wright Racing Stable’s Plot the Dots became a stakes winner for the first time in his 33rd career start, putting away 2021 Maryland Million Classic winner Ournationonparade in the final furlong and rolling to a five-length score in the $75,000 Jennings.

One of three horses in the Jennings owned and trained by Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash, Plot the Dots ($12) gave jockey Jevian Toledo his second straight stakes win on the program following 3-year-old filly L Street Lady in the $100,000 Xtra Heat.

Plot the Dots was making his fifth start since being claimed for $40,000 by Cash last fall at Laurel. He had raced in 11 previous stakes, placing twice.

“I always like the back class and he had a lot of back class,” Cash said. “He wasn’t running particularly well at the time so we were hoping we could get him back to his ways and, man, what a race today.”

Toledo and Plot the Dots were unhurried as stablemate Monday Morning Qb, the 2020 Maryland Million Classic winner, and 50-1 long shot Whiskey and You raced through splits of 23.94 and 47.66 seconds. Even-money favorite Ournationonparade was in the clear three wide and rolled up to the lead around the far turn, followed closely by Plot the Dots, running side by side into mid-stretch before Plot the Dots took over.

“He really likes this track,” Cash said. “He’s going to stay here where he likes it. Great ride by Toledo. For a second I thought he was backing up when he was resting him, but then he came on with the long stretch. What a fun day.”

Galerio came on to be second, two lengths ahead of Ournationonparade. One Ten, Exculpatory, Whiskey and You, Ain’t Da Beer Cold and Monday Morning Qb completed the order of finish.

The Jennings honors William Jennings Sr., one of Maryland’s greatest horsemen whose Glengar Farm was located six miles from historic Pimlico Race Course. Jennings bred, owned and trained 1887 Preakness winner Dunboyne. His grandson, Henry S. Clark, followed in his footsteps and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1982.

Award Wanted Takes Inside Route to $75,000 Geisha Win

No Guts No Glory Farm and Erica Upton’s Award Wanted slipped through an opening along the rail in mid-stretch and surged past multiple stakes winner Malibu Beauty and 22-1 long shot Bourbon Wildcat to win the $75,000 Geisha.

It was the second straight win and first in a stakes for Award Wanted ($11.40), who ran third in the 2021 Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap. The winning time for one mile over a fast main track was 1:40.76.

Jockey Angel Cruz settled Award Wanted in fourth as 2-5 favorite Malibu Beauty, exiting front-running 7 ¾-length triumph in the Dec. 30 Carousel at Laurel, established an early advantage with a quarter-mile in 24.17 seconds. Bourbon Wildcat took the initiative and got through along the rail to take the lead after a half in 48.09 as Award Wanted moved up to third.

The order remained unchanged as they straightened for home but as Malibu Beauty on the outside went about trying to reel in the leader, Award Wanted stayed inside and sprinted past them both to win by 5 ¾ lengths for her eighth career victory, five of them coming at Laurel.

“I was confident the mile would work, but I wasn’t confident she was going to beat [Malibu Beauty],” winning trainer Jerry Robb said. “But, we’ll take it.”

Bourbon Wildcat was second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Malibu Beauty. It was two lengths back to Sweet Gracie followed by Startwithabang, Sweet Surprise and Fool Yourself. Intrepid Dream was scratched.

The Geisha pays homage to Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Maryland-bred daughter of Discsovery, foaled in 1943 at his Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md. Bred to 1945 Preakness winner Polynesian, she produced one of the greatest racehorses and sires of the 20th century, Native Dancer, in 1950.