The Factor or Sway Away?

February 23, 2011 09:17am
Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily - Day 73

Noting the tendency for frontrunners to stick around until the end at Sunland Park, Bob Baffert has selected the $800,000 Sunland Derby as The Factor’s next likely race. The nine furlong affair is a Grade 3, so the winner will earn more than enough money to punch his ticket for the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, trainer Jeff Bonde is also considering sending his top Derby hope, Sway Away, out of town to test him on a less speed favoring dirt track at Oaklawn Park.

Why so much interest in these two colts who have never run beyond seven furlongs?
Anyone who witnessed Sunday's San Vicente Stakes knows the answer. Rated as the best Derby prep to date on Horse Racing Nation's Kentucky Derby Super Screener, the San Vicente was fast, real fast.

Santa Anita's speedy surface favored front-runners all day, and The Factor was more than willing to take advantage. Gunned to the lead from the break by jockey Martin Garcia, The Factor blazed through a half mile :43.41, including a blistering second quarter in 21.21 seconds, which left him alone on the front. He then proceeded to draw clear at the top of the lane, before being asked a little late to hold off a flying Sway Away. Way back early, Sway Away closed with great fury to finish a clear second, beaten only 3/4 of a length for the win. Granted Santa Anita has been a super highway ripe for fast times this Spring, but The Factor's final time of 1:20.34 was impressive nonetheless, and became a new San Vicente record.

It was an excellent showing for a pair of young colts who were making only their third lifetime start. The potential is great, but I am interested in what it may mean for this year's Kentucky Derby. The question then becomes which of these impressive young colts will become a true contender on the First Saturday in May. Personally, I think the question is a bit of a no-brainer.

I see Sway Away as a major threat in ten weeks, while The Factor may only prove to be a ticket burner if he makes it there at all. Sway Away is attractive because of his breeding and his running style. The son of Afleet Alex should only get stronger as the distances become longer, and it impresses me how well he already looks sprinting. In longer races, I would expect him much closer to the pace early depending on the pace, and still able to be finishing strongly in the late stages. Meanwhile,The Factor is likely a one-turn horse. Baffert himself is worried about his ability to relax enough to handle a route of ground. In nine furlong races like the Sunland Derby, he may still be tough to catch if he is not bothered too much early, but the Derby would simply feature too much contention early to leave a horse like him with any chance. Of the two, Sway Away is the one to watch in Louisville.

In other Derby doings, Gourmet Dinner and Astrology headlined today's workouts:


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Older Comments about The Factor or Sway Away?...

I think its too early to dismiss The Factor as a Derby horse - IF he could rate - he may be the next Lost In The Fog, though. I was VERY impressed by Sway Away's run & I love, love, love his sire- Afleet Alex
  • josephe · Mr Baffert kid gloves for a horse whos blood links to the darley arabian..Distance will not be the problem this horse will love to beat anyone ...eyeball to eyeball 47 and change or 43 and change....remember silver charm...well hes faster..i remeber its in the heart .if u put him in sunland derby the only thing you will get is a tighter more mature horse and the money..have a nice trip.. · 3209 days ago
@RachelLover Sidney's Candy set the 5-1/2 F mark at DelMar as a 2yo; The Factor set the 6F mark at SA (1:06.98!) as a 2yo. Definite similarities. Both The Factor & Sway Away were great in the San Vicente & Derby day's a long way off: more than 2 months!!!
indeed footlick, none the less time and distance shall tell. both are great.
I like The Factor (love the gray's) but for some reason it's like de ja vu from last year with Sidney's Candy. I was impressed with Sway Away but there are still so many factors (no pun intended) that will come into play before May 7. I'm with zatt; I would comfortably bet against The Factor in the Derby.
the factor is fast in sprints, but i really like the way sway away closed fantastically in this race. he looks like a big horse, and should do well in routes if he keeps up the running style he displayed against the factor.
And remember that the pace would have been different in a longer race. The Factor didn't run a 43 half in his maiden race and came home fast. If he sets a reasonable pace, for him, around 45 he will be tough to run down at 8 or 8.5 furlongs. After Garcia had him open up in the stretch he let him coast home as he knew he had won. Even at Santa Anita 43 and change half is taxing.
oh it was 7. i think he could have caught the factor if it was longer. just let up once he knew it was done. but the factor is still imporving. i think their next meeting distance will tell.
yeah he did i even liked lion heart to. i know he never won but still put in a great effort for being on the front. how far was the last race?
War Emblem wired the fields twice in the KD and Preakness.In the Belmont he went to his kness at the start losing all hope to complete the triple as #12.You couldn't rate Dr. Fager but his duels with Damascus are lengendary at 1 1/4 mile each winning two.These were two very good horses.Watch the Factor's last race again Sway Away never galloped past him.
yeah it does take a powerful front runner to hang on in the derby sometimes.
Breeding is a part of it, but his running style also speaks volumes as far as his ability to be a serious Derby threat. He may turn out to be an outstanding horse, but I will confidently bet against him hitting the board in the Kentucky Derby.
sway away right now, but we will see after the factors next race. and you're right can't dismiss the factor. sway just looked better to me distance wise that day.
OK -what I forgot to say was that how many horses outrun their pedigrees?

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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