Hutcheson winner Flashpoint<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Hutcheson winner Flashpoint
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Flashpoint Owner Issues Swale Challenge

Flashpoint on Kentucky Derby trail; owner issues Swale challenge to The Factor.

Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) winner Flashpoint will point for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but will not be taking the traditional route getting there, said Peachtree Stable president John Fort, who also issued a challenge to the connections of San Vicente (gr. II) winner The Factor  and Gulfstream Park.


Flashpoint, who is undefeated in two starts following his powerful 7 1/4-length victory in the Hutcheson, will make his next start in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. II) April 3, after which there is a good chance he will train up to the Kentucky Derby, according to Fort.


Fort, who finished second in the 2001 Derby with 55-1 shot Invisible Ink, is challenging The Factor’s connections to an East vs. West showdown in the Swale and also is challenging Gulfstream to increase the purse of the race to $1 million. The Swale currently carries a purse of $150,000. The race would be drawn as normal.


“Racing is all about fun,” Fort said. “Races like the Florida Derby and Santa Anita Derby take care of themselves and you don’t need to promote them. We need to enhance the sport through innovative methods. Why not launch a campaign to change the Swale from just an undercard race to one that will attract interest from the fans and the media? We need to come up with fun ideas to write about. What better way to do that than have a showdown between the fastest 3-year-old in the West and the fastest 3-year-old in the East? They both won a grade II stakes at seven furlongs, both have the best speed figures, both are big colts, both are gray, and both have names that begin with the letter ‘F.’ Put it all together.”


George Bolton, majority owner of The Factor, said he would consider Fort’s proposal.


“John came up to me on the hamburger line at the 2-year-old sales and said, ‘Given the excitement of our two colts, let’s propose a $1 million race at Gulfstream,’” Bolton said. “I told him, ‘John, if you can get a $1 million purse for the Swale we’ll have The Factor there.’ I called Bob Baffert (who has trained several horses for Peachtree) and told him about it, and he said, ‘For a million bucks I’ll be there.’”


As of now, The Factor likely is headed for the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby (gr. III), but Bolton still considers him more of a Met Mile (gr. I) and King's Bishop (gr. I) type of horse.


Regardless of whether this duel ever happens, Fort is already looking ahead to the Kentucky Derby and has a unique way of getting Flashpoint there.


“Because Flashpoint had some of your basic 2-year-old problems and needed time to smooth things out, the traditional way of getting to the Derby was not an option this year,” Fort said. “Because the traditional way doesn’t work I have to figure out a new punch to knock these guys out with, because that’s the only way I can fight them. I’m not looking just to get to the Derby. I’ve been there three times and have run second. I need to find a way to win, and the best way to do that is with this colt’s fabulous speed.


“He’s extremely fast, he’s extremely sound, and he has a very even temperament, so why not use the ace I’ve been dealt? He has a massive hip and I could run him in the Florida Derby and he might win, but I don’t want to run him two turns and have him get tired and run the race of his life before the Derby. So, let’s try to do it a different way this year and train up to the Derby using his natural speed. It’s not the traditional method, but there are so many horses now who go into the Derby off only two starts at 3, and it’s now become popular to have more time between races. So, who’s to say this can’t be done?


Fort said he hasn’t spoken with trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. yet, but this is the way he is leaning at this point.


Flashpoint, a Florida-bred son of Pomeroy, out of Two Punch Lil, by Two Punch, has won both his starts by a combined 13 1/2 lengths, breaking his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct Jan. 15. He was purchased by Fort at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $100,000.


In other Derby news, Bolton said that Astrology  will make his 3-year-old debut in the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn instead of the March 12 San Felipe (gr. II), as trainer Steve Asmussen is pointing recent maiden winner Albergatti to the San Felipe.