Factor It In Powers to Fire Plug Victory

January 22, 2023

Factor It In. (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

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.

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

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