A leading prospect for last May’s Kentucky Derby before injuring an
ankle, The Factor has dramatically rebounded as a top contender for next
month’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a designation trainer Bob Baffert’s gray
3-year-old is expected to solidify in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000
Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Ancient Title, at six furlongs, is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and
You’re In” Challenge Race, guaranteeing the winner a spot in racing’s
championships on Nov. 4 & 5 at Churchill Downs. The Ancient Title
will be joined Saturday by the co-featured Grade II, $150,000 Oak Tree
Mile, a turf event that can lead to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. First post
for the program of 10 races is 1 p.m.
The Factor returned from 4 ½ months on the sidelines to
impressively capture Del Mar’s Grade I Pat O’Brien Stakes on Aug. 28.
Covering seven furlongs in 1:21.56 under regular rider Martin Garcia,
the War Front colt thrust himself squarely into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint
picture. He assumed pre-BC favoritism last Saturday when Trappe Shot
ran fourth in Belmont Park’s Grade I Vosburgh Stakes.
The Factor, who breezed a half mile at Santa Anita on Monday
morning in 47 flat, is listed at 5-1 in Las Vegas Future Book
wagering. Defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Big Drama is next at
The Factor will face five adversaries on Saturday when
attempting to build on the impression he left following the Pat O’Brien.
“When this horse is really on his game, he is an extraordinary horse,”
Baffert said afterward. “He has got the most beautiful stride I’ve ever
seen on a horse. It’s like he barely picks up his feet.”
The colt, named in large part for Bill O’Reilly’s highly rated
“The O’Reilly Factor” television show on the Fox News Channel, smoothly
sped to a 1 ¾ length triumph in his comeback as the 17-10 second choice
to Smiling Tiger. The latter finished off-the-board after engaging The
Factor in a speed duel.
“My horse was running easy,” Garcia said after The Factor’s
first meeting with older horses. “He is really fast. If you take him
back, he loses interest. Not only is he fast, maybe as fast a horse as
I’ve ever ridden, but he’ll just keep going. He’s really a nice horse.”
Owned by George Bolton and the Fog City Stable of David
Shimmons, The Factor will take earnings of $457,180 into the Ancient
Title from four wins in six starts. He will break from the rail under
high weight of 121 pounds. The Ancient Title is carded as the
afternoon’s fourth race.
Before fading to seventh as the odds-on choice in the Grade I
Arkansas Derby on April 16, The Factor had won his three previous starts
by a combined 15 ¼ lengths including the Grade II Rebel Stakes at
Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes. He suffered a
hairline fracture of a hind ankle in the Arkansas Derby.
The Factor was purchased by Bolton for $250,000 at the 2010
Barretts May 2-year-olds sale. Bolton later brought in Shimmons as a
partner. The Factor is out of the Miswaki mare Greyciousness and was
bred in Kentucky by H & W Thoroughbreds.
While Baffert is more than likely to race The Factor in The
Sprint on Breeders’ Cup Saturday if all goes to plan in the Ancient
Title, he holds an option of competing in the Dirt Mile. “I’d like to
keep him around one turn,” Baffert noted, “and it’s a one-turn mile at
Trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr’s Amazombie may offer The Factor
his prime competition on Saturday. With the exception of a single start
around two turns, the 5-year-old gelding has not finished worse than
third in his last 15 races. In his last start at Santa Anita, Amazombie
rallied to take the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on
April 3. Regular rider Mike Smith will be aboard the California-bred son
of Northern Afleet who has earned $565,708 from an 8-4-5 record in 21
The complete field for the Ancient Title Stakes, with jockeys
and weights in post position order: The Factor, Martin Garcia, 121;
Sirocco Strike, Victor Espinoza, 119; Square Eddie, Patrick Valenzuela,
119; Irrefutable, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 119, and
Mensa Heat, Joseph Talamo, 119.