TWO YEAR OLD..THE FACTOR..1:06.98 SIX FURLONGS....SANTA ANITA,,,DECEMBER 26, 2010
ARCADIA - Bob Baffert, who's won three Kentucky Derbies and trained recent 3-year-old standouts Pioneerof the Nile and Lookin At Lucky, might have unveiled his latest young superstar on Sunday during opening day at Santa Anita.
The Factor, a 2-year-old son of War Front who lost his career debut by 3 1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28, broke the Santa Anita track record for six furlongs with an 8 1/4-length victory in 1:06.98 in a maiden special weight.
The old record of 1:07.20 was set by Sunny Blossom on Dec. 30, 1989.
"We've always been really, really high on this horse," Baffert said. "He had a little sickness. I was going to run him (earlier), but he got sick on me at Del Mar so I couldn't run him."
He debuted across town in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on Turf Festival weekend, running fourth as the 3-5 favorite.
"I can't believe he got beat first time out," Baffert said. "He broke and (Joel Rosario) grabbed him a little bit. I kind of confused the rider, telling him I didn't want him going out there really fast because on a synthetic you have to be so careful about that. That's one thing about dirt, you don't have to worry about that. You can just let the horse show his talent.
"So today, he had the race under his belt, came out of it, he's worked great since then ... if he'd have lost today, I would have quit training."
Rafael Bejarano, who got off to a quick start in search of his fourth
consecutive Santa Anita riding title with three victories and replaced Rosario aboard The Factor, was effusive in his praise of the colt who was purchased in May for $250,000 at the Barretts sale for 2-year-olds in training.
"This horse is amazing," he said. "I've been working him in the mornings and he's so great. He keeps getting better and better."
Baffert said they'll bring The Factor along slowly.
"One step at a time," said Baffert, who won back-to-back Derbies in 1997 and '98 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet and returned to the Churchill Downs winner's circle in 2002 with War Emblem. "We know he's fast, so he's going to have to harness that speed a little bit, but Bejarano didn't think he was going that fast.
"I think they really get over this track, it's got a lot of cushion to it, so they're skipping over the top of it. I love it. I'm glad dirt is back. I don't know what we would have done with all the rain we had. We wouldn't have been able to run here."
The Factor went gate to wire, carving out rapid fractions of 21.62, 44.11 and 55.42 seconds along the way.