Not seen since falling off the Triple
Crown trail after a seventh place finish in the Arkansas Derby (Grade I) in
April, The Factor returned to his preferred sprinting game and the
three-year-old was no match for older horses in winning the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Handicap by nearly two lengths as the 8-to-5 second choice in the short field of
The Factor’s typical blazing early speed with
Martin Garcia in the irons was matched to their outside by 7-to-5 favorite
Smiling Tiger and Joel Rosario through a first half in 44.1, however Bob Baffert’s third straight Pat O’Brien win (El Brujo last year and Zensational in
2009) was in little doubt through the stretch, as his colt stopped the clock
just two ticks off the seven-furlong track record in 1:21.2.
“I was real confident he was ready, because
the last couple of times I worked him I thought, ‘Whoa, I forgot how good he
was,’” said Baffert. “I was concerned when I saw Smiling Tiger go after us
early, but Martin didn’t move on this horse. He didn’t panic. He was nice and
The three-year-old son of War Front first
drew national attention when he broke his maiden at Santa Anita in a
scintillating track record time of 1:06.4 for six furlongs. Distance limitations
were always a concern, but he did win the Rebel going a mile and a sixteenth at
Oaklawn Park by over six lengths.
“I want to keep him one turn. That’s what
he wants to do,” said Baffert of his colt that won for the fourth time in six
starts and pushed his career earnings over $450,000. “He’s got the most
beautiful stride I’ve ever seen on a horse. He barely picks his feet up.”
Baffert also campaigns Bing Crosby (Grade
I) winner Euroears, a six-furlong specialist pointing for the Breeders’ Cup
Sprint in November. The Factor could go in the Sprint or the Breeders’ Cup Dirt
Mile (Grade I) around one turn at Churchill Downs.
While he acknowledges they could hook up
at some point, he’s likely to send one of his speedsters to Belmont Park in New
York for the Vosburgh (Grade I) on October 1, while the other one stays home
for the Ancient Title (Grade I) at Santa Anita a week later.
Sent off as the second longest shot in the
field at 5-to-1, Camp
Victory crossed the wire
second for the fourth straight time in a graded stake. He did inherit the win
in the Los Angeles Handicap (Grade II) by disqualification three starts back.
Last year’s second and third place
finishers in this race finished third and fourth this year, with Crown of Thorns
checking in third as the 3-to-1 third choice and Smiling Tiger fading to fourth.
Don Tito was overmatched and trailed throughout
as a 26-to-1 outsider.
sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for much more and visit www.pick4blog.com for daily selections and
To view my horse
racing channel on YouTube click here!