Race of the Week 2017

The Factor Looms Large in Ancient Title

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 6-1.

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 Churchill Downs.”

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 starts.

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.



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Older Comments about The Factor Looms Large in Ancient Title...

I'll take Mensa Heat.
he'll have another couple horses on the pace with him this time. It should be interesting. Pace won't be soft and it won't just be one horse breathing down his throat.
As of now strong pick in BC Sprint if all goes well in prep and as long as he's not in the BC Mile.
MAX FACTOR..........

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