Like any speed horse, there were plenty of questions about The Factor’s ability to handle a longer distance and a two turn race heading into Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Consider those questions answered–The Factor turned in a scorching performance as he took the lead early and pulled away late for a dominant victory.
The $300,000 Grade 2 Rebel Stakes was The Factor’s first start beyond seven furlongs in addition to being his first two turn effort. It’s never a fait accompli for a young horse to be able to handle these challenges, but The Factor looked as good as ever. Jockey Martin Garcia guided The Factor on a perfect trip, taking the lead early and settling well before cranking in to a different gear at the end and pulling away late for a 6 1/4 length victory. The Factor turned in some impressive fractions–23.33 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.77 for the half-mile, and 1:10.98 for six furlongs. Most impressive was the stretch run, and the total time of the race on the fast track was 1:42.19.
For his part, jockey Garcia has no concern about The Factor’s ability to carry his speed at an even longer distance:
“I had a lot left.”
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has been trying to downplay The Factor’s Kentucky Derby contender status sounded as much amazed as pleased with his postrace comments:
“He could have gone a mile and an eighth today. That was pretty amazing what he did today. I was worried how he would react coming from Santa Anita, on our track, because our track [compared] to here is pretty light. This track is more demanding.”
“So, I think he probably got more out of this race than he’s gotten out of all of his races. This should really set him up.”
It’s also going to end any possibility that The Factor would be able to ‘fly under the radar’ into the Kentucky Derby. 103 Beyer figures tend to get noticed. The Factor paid $4.80, $4.00 and $2.80 for the victory. Caleb’s Posse came on late to finish second, returning $14.20 and $6.80. A neck behind in third was Archarcharch who paid back $4.20. The 6-7 Exacta paid $112.60 while the 6-7-1 Trifecta paid 255.70.
Up next for The Factor is most likely the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.
Video of The Rebel Stakes: