02/21/2011 8:30AM

Baffert intends to take it slow with The Factor

Barbara D. Livingston
The Factor will be stretched out incrementally after his victory in the seven-furlong San Vicente.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Even though trainer Bob Baffert puts The Factor on the same plane as champion Uncle Mo when it comes to raw talent, he and co-owner George Bolton are being realistic about how to proceed with The Factor, desirous of giving him a chance to go two turns, but sensitive to not ruin him on a difficult, perhaps quixotic, quest to make the Kentucky Derby.

“You won’t see him going a mile and an eighth soon,” Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, said after The Factor scored a front-running victory in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday. “I want to bring him up in increments. He’ll tell us.”

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This is not Bolton’s first rodeo, either. He was a co-owner of Curlin during that colt’s 3-year-old campaign, but whereas Curlin looked like a fast horse who would keep on going, The Factor is simply fast, but his distance capabilities are still in question.

“Fortunately, George is very patient,” Baffert said. “He’s been in this game a long time. It’s hard to get a horse like this.”

And for that reason, Baffert, Bolton, and co-owner David Shimmon don’t want to mess this up. Already The Factor has had a minor setback. After winning his second lifetime start Dec. 26, he had sore feet, necessitating a layoff until the San Vicente. And he wasn’t certain to run in the San Vicente until a workout six days before the race. To push on him further and bring him back quickly, plus send him two turns, would be ambitious. So they will take their time before deciding what to do next.

“He’s fast. Baffert said. “He’s talented, him and Uncle Mo. They’ve got world-class speed.”

Sway Away, who finished furiously to get second in the San Vicente in his first start since August, will be given a chance to get to the Derby, trainer Jeff Bonde said.

“This is the best Derby chance I’ve had in many years,” Bonde said. “He showed me enough that I’m still a believer. He’s eligible to all the races here and at Oaklawn. We’ll see whatever looks best.”

Also likely to head out of town is Indian Winter, who was scratched from the San Vicente a little more than an hour before the race because Jerry Hollendorfer, his trainer and co-owner, thought the speed-favoring nature of the track on Sunday would compromise Indian Winter’s chances. Hollendorfer’s frustration level with this track already had been ratcheted up by the late-running Blind Luck’s runner-up efforts in recent stakes here.

On Monday, Hollendorfer entered Indian Winter in the $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby, to be run on Saturday in Arizona.