08/25/2005 12:00AM

Flint returns, sore but hopeful


Things almost certainly have to go better for Steve Flint on Saturday at Ellis Park than they did a week ago.

Flint was minding his own business at the far end of the Ellis paddock, preparing to saddle Swept Gold as the heavy favorite in the Anna Fisher Debutante, one of four stakes run last Saturday at the Henderson, Ky., track.

"Next thing I knew, she hit the wall and starting coming down with her front foot," said Flint. "When she came down, she caught me real good on my arm."

Flint initially thought his left wrist was fractured. "But it's just a big bruise on the bone," he said.

What probably hurt him more was the way Swept Gold performed, finishing a distant third as the 1-2 favorite. "She's obviously a lot better than that," he said.

Saturday is a new day, and with Artemus Sunrise as a major contender in the Ellis feature, the $50,000 Governor's Handicap, Flint is hoping his two-hour return trip to Louisville from Ellis will be not only pain-free but also fun. Flint has been very satisfied with the way Artemus Sunrise has run in his three races - one win, two seconds - since he claimed the colt for owner Thad Ackel for $40,000 on May 21 at Churchill Downs.

It has been less than two weeks since Artemus Sunrise finished second to M B Sea, trained by Dale Romans, in the West Virginia Governor's at Mountaineer Park.

"I don't think anybody could've beaten Dale's horse that day," said Flint. "He was unbelievable. Our horse came out of the race good, and this race looked like a good spot to come back in, so here we go."

Jesus Castanon, who is well on his way to his first riding title at Ellis, has the call on Artemus Sunrise, a 4-year-old by Tale of the Cat.

M B Sea was nominated to the one-mile Governor's but was not entered by Romans. That leaves Discreet Hero and Paging, both trained by Flint's father, Bernie, as the most likely ones to beat in a field of seven older horses.

The 28th running of the Governor's is the 10th of 11 races on Saturday. The $29,750 Weekend Madness, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, is the secondary feature.

After Saturday, the lone remaining stakes at the Ellis meet is the $50,000 Tri-State Handicap, set for closing day, Sept. 5.