04/13/2011 1:25PM

Arkansas Derby: The Factor 7-5 favorite in 13-horse field

Benoit Photo
The Factor will face 12 rivals in Saturday's Arkansas Derby.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - With Uncle Mo suffering his first defeat last weekend and Premier Pegasus sidelined by injury, The Factor has risen to the top of most of the Kentucky Derby charts. He even was made the 7-2 morning line favorite for the race in preliminary odds issued earlier this week by Churchill Downs.

Saturday, The Factor will put his status on the line in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby. But nobody is backing down from the favorite. Oaklawn Park drew a large field of 13 horses for the race when entries were taken on Wednesday.

“We scared the hell out of them,” joked Bob Baffert, who trains The Factor.

The Factor drew post 3, and was made the 7-5 morning-line favorite. He is to be ridden by Martin Garcia, who was aboard the horse when he won the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel last month at Oaklawn. The Factor blitzed his rivals from the bell to win his two-turn debut by six lengths. For the effort, he earned a Beyer Figure of 103.

ARKANSAS DERBY: View contender profiles and watch past replays

The Factor, who has shown brilliant speed throughout his young career, makes the move to 1 1/8 miles on Saturday. The post position he drew sat well with Baffert.

“It’s okay,” he said. “With him, the way he runs, he just goes right to the lead. Wherever he is, he’s there. I’d rather be in the three-hole than the 13-hole.”

Baffert wants to see the right kind of effort from The Factor on Saturday before committing to a start in the Kentucky Derby.

“He has to run well here, and I’ve got to be happy with him,” he said Wednesday. “With him, it’s been one race at a time. The Kentucky Derby, my owners are realistic, and they know I’m not going to go just to go. I want to see what he does again. I’ll know more after the race. The water gets a little bit deeper. He’s still training great, and hopefully, he should run better.”

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

The complete Arkansas Derby field from the rail with riders is Nehro, Corey Nakatani; Elite Alex, Calvin Borel; The Factor, Garcia; Brethren, Ramon Dominguez; Sway Away, Patrick Valenzuela; Caleb’s Posse, Eddie Razo; Truman’s Commander, Israel Ocampo; Alternation, Luis Quinonez; Dance City, Javier Castellano; Archarcharch, Jon Court; J P’s Gusto, Cliff Berry; J W Blue, Joe Rocco Jr.; and Saratoga Red, Terry Thompson.

Alternation and Caleb’s Posse, who are both trained by Donnie Von Hemel, will start as a coupled entry, making for 12 betting interests Saturday. Five horses in the field will add blinkers: Brethren, Elite Alex, J P’s Gusto, J W Blue, and Sway Away.

The Arkansas Derby will go as the 11th race on a 12-race card. There is a special first post of 12 noon Central, with the Arkansas Derby to go at 5:58 p.m. Central. The race will be supported by two other 3-year-old stakes, the $100,000 Northern Spur and the $100,000 Instant Racing.

The Arkansas Derby closes out the Oaklawn meet, and last year the track drew more than 60,000 patrons to watch Line of David edge eventual Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. The infield will be open on Saturday, with temperatures expected to be in the low 70s.

The Arkansas Derby will be broadcast on HRTV, which will have onsite coverage Friday and Saturday.

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