Off another scorchingly fast performance in last weekend’s San Vincente, The Factor has become a hot item in horse racing circles. Trainer Bob Baffert remains skeptical about The Factor’s Kentucky Derby prospects, but he’s at least going to give him a shot to see if he has what it takes for Triple Crown competition.
Baffert said that The Factor’s next race would most likely be the $800,000 Grade III Sunland Derby on March 27 at Sunland Park Racetrack in New Mexico. The race would be 8 furlongs and would be The Factor’s first competition over a two turn course. The Grade II Rebel Stakes on March 19 at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park is also a possibility for the grey/roan colt.
The Factor broke the six-furlong Santa Anita track record in his maiden victory December 26 awon the San Vicente by three-quarters of a length, finishing up seven furlongs in a 1:20.34 under jockey Martin Garcia. Baffert sounded unconvinced of his fitness for the Kentucky Derby but noted that he’s such a speedy horse that they’re going to enter him in a two turn race and see how he performs:
“We’re not really thinking Kentucky Derby right now, but it’s a long ways off. I talked to (owner) George Bolton, and as fast and exciting as he is, we have to at least try him at two turns. We’d be kicking ourselves if we didn’t. He’s a horse that has to be in front, but he can shut it down a little once he makes the lead. Maybe he can carry his speed like Smarty Jones did.”
Baffert will also likely run a pair of three year olds in the $250,000 Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 12. Jaycito will definitely make the San Felipe start while Awesome Patriot will either be entered in the same race or the Rebel Stakes. It will be the three year old debut for both colts and Baffert says they’re training well:
“Jaycito had a great work yesterday (at Hollywood Park). He might be a little short for the San Felipe but it should set him up perfectly for the Santa Anita Derby He’s really progressing.”
“I had to back off of Awesome Patriot a little after his last race. He got a little light on me. But he’s doing great now. I wanted to run him last weekend but seven-eighths wasn’t right for him (San Vicente) and there was no plane to Arkansas (for the February 21 Southwest). I like him going two turns.”
Here’s the video of The Factor’s win in the San Vincente: