Carlos Mancilla chasing graded win with Factor It In

Michael Scheffres’ claimer-turned-multiple stakes winner Factor It In, narrowly beaten in a pair of out-of-town graded-stakes last year, will have home track advantage when he makes his return to graded company in the $250,000 General George (G3) Saturday, Feb. 18 at Laurel Park.

The 48th running of the General George for 4-year-olds and up and the 69th renewal of the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) for fillies and mares 4 and older, both sprinting seven furlongs, co-headline a Winter Carnival program featuring six stakes worth $900,000 in purses.

Post time for the first of 10 races is 12:25 p.m.

The 7-year-old Factor It In owns 11 career victories, eight coming in 13 tries at Laurel. Seven of those wins have come since being claimed by trainer Carlos Mancilla for $25,000 out of a November 2019 triumph. His total of more than $394,000 in earnings while in Mancilla’s barn make him the trainer’s highest earner.

“Me and my owner, we always talk when we claim a horse. I went to the races that day and we got lucky to get him, because two people wanted the horse, me and somebody else. Thank God we got him,” Mancilla said. “What a claim.

“He has had little issues, but we fix them. [Last year] I said to my owner, ‘Let’s give him a few months off,’ and he said, ‘Yes, why not.’ We ended up giving him like 10 months, and that helped him. It helped a lot,” he added. “He’s a changed horse. He’s a totally different horse.”

Factor It In went unraced from September 2021 to July 2022 and returned in top form, banking close to half of his $490,120 in purse earnings with three wins, a second and two thirds from six starts. Each of his wins came in stakes, starting with the seven-furlong Challedon Oct. 1 at Laurel.

From there Factor It In was third in back-to-back Grade 3 attempts sprinting six furlongs at Aqueduct, beaten a half-length in the Oct. 29 Bold Ruler and a neck in the Nov. 26 Fall Highweight, before returning home to win the six-furlong Dave’s Friend Dec. 30 and 6 ½-furlong Fire Plug Jan. 21.

“I think that as the horse has gotten older, he’s gotten better,” Mancilla said. “I’m very confident. I think he’s going to be tough. I know the other horses in there are also tough. It’s a stakes race and they get the tough horses, but my horse is tough, too. We’re home, and he loves Laurel. We can’t wait. It’s going to be exciting.”

Angel Cruz, aboard for each of the last two wins, gets the return call from outermost Post 8 on Factor It In, who ran sixth in the 2020 General George. Mancilla, a winner of 149 races in his career, has never won a graded stake.

“Every trainer, he wants to win all the big races like that. It would be nice. We would be so excited, my owner and all my family,” Mancilla said. “I’m lucky, all my family works together. My brother, my two sisters, my wife, my daddy, everybody. To win this race, the General George, it would mean a lot to me, and everybody.”