The Factor will be an odds-on favorite to win Saturday’s Grade I
Ancient Title Stakes and earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at
Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, but that’s not deterring Doug O’Neill from
testing Santa Anita’s track record holder for six furlongs.
O’Neill sends out Square Eddie in the six-furlong Ancient Title,
which has been won in the past by stalwarts such as Groovy, Cardmania,
Elmhurst, Kona Gold, and last year, Smiling Tiger.
“I think he needed his last race,” the trainer said, referring
to the Pirates Bounty on Sept. 7, Square Eddie’s first race since March
5. The 5-year-old Smart Strike horse had spent a tour at stud between
those two races. “He came out of it in great shape,” O’Neill continued.
“He worked (Saturday morning) in 1:11 and one and galloped out great.
Owned by J. Paul Reddam, Square Eddie won the Grade I Breeders’
Futurity as a 2-year-old in 2008 and won a comeback allowance race at 6
1/2 furlongs on Jan. 11 this year in a blistering 1:13.
“It was the right time,” said Dennis O’Neill, Doug’s brother and
associate, explaining the trip to stud. “He got laid up when the
breeding season started, and Paul had mares that he was going to breed
to Momentum, but decided to swing them over to Square Eddie. It was
always the intention for Square Eddie to come back (to the races). He
has, and he’s training unbelievable. We’ll see if he’s still got the
heart to compete like he did last year at this meet.”
Meanwhile, veteran horseman Ted West and his son, trainer Ted H.
West, are optimistic that Mensa Heat will make his presence felt in the
“He’s won three in a row, but this will be a test for him,” the
elder West said of the 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat who will be making
his 39th career start. “He’s at the top of his game right now and
should be sitting on as good a race as he can run.
“I’d like to run him a little farther than six furlongs,”
continued West, who soon turns 75 but plays golf five days a week at a
course near his home in Monrovia. “I don’t think that’s his best
distance, but he’s pretty sharp right now. I think he’s going to run
The field for the Ancient Title, which goes as the fourth of 10
races: The Factor, Martin Garcia, 3-5; Sirocco Strike, Victor Espinoza,
30-1; Square Eddie, Patrick Valenzuela, 15-1; Irrefutable, Rafael
Bejarano, 6-1; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 5-2; and Mensa Heat, Joe Talamo,