09/18/2001 11:00PM

Flint bringing Outofthebox back to the big time


Outofthebox will take a significant step in his comeback on Sunday. A Triple Crown contender this spring after finishing second to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Outofthebox missed the classics because of injury and has not raced in graded company since. Outofthebox returns to Grade 1 competition in the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., Sunday. He is expected to meet Travers runner-up and probable favorite E Dubai, as well as Touch Tone, the Haskell runner-up who in his last start was a third in the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby.

Outofthebox, a winner of $412,713, might have been the marquee name in the Super Derby this year had his season not been compromised. In February the colt ran a strong second to Songandaprayer in the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, and then followed that performance up with a second-place finish in the Florida Derby in March.

His career took a turn for the worse a month before the Kentucky Derby, however, when he finished a distant fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Flamingo. "A horse ran over his heels," said trainer Bernie Flint.

He returned to action in July, finishing third in a conditioned allowance race at Churchill Downs. He stepped back into stakes company in August, running seventh at short odds in the $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. "He didn't handle the bull ring," said Flint. "The short turns were something he's never seen before."

Flint built Outofthebox's confidence up with a conditioned allowance win at Saratoga on Sept. 1. He has since pointed him for the Super Derby. "We have some plans for him farther on in the year, and this race fits him better than others," said Flint, who has few concerns about the colt getting 1 1/4 miles in his first attempt. "I wouldn't see any problem with it. He's always run long, he's a fresh horse, and I think he'll do it."

Outofthebox, a stalk-and-pounce runner, will benefit if the pace is fast in the Super Derby. E Dubai and Touch Tone, who are both exceptionally quick, could cause some fireworks on the front end. Should the speedsters run each other into defeat, Outofthebox could pick up the pieces and score his first career stakes win. "He doesn't need to be on the lead," said Flint. "He can come from off the pace. That's probably his best game."

Flint said he has not firmed up a rider for Outofthebox. The colt is scheduled arrive in Shreveport on Thursday aboard a flight carrying E Dubai and Touch Tone. Louisiana Downs racing officials are expecting a nine-horse field for the Super Derby, completed by Until Sundown, winner of the Grade 3 Affirmed at Hollywood Park; Royal Spy, a two-time stakes winner for Louisiana Downs's leading trainer, Cole Norman; and the first four finishers of the local prep for the race, the Prelude: Rare Cure, Quadrophonic Sound, Wow, and Discreet Hero.

Weiner dogs race for America

Louisiana Downs will match funds raised for a local animal shelter during its popular wiener dog races Saturday, and contribute that money to the American Red Cross to help those in need following last week's terrorist attacks. Last year the 70-yard dachshund races raised more than $7,000 for Animal Welfare, Inc. Louisiana Downs will also accept patron and employee donations for the Red Cross this week.