02/24/2011 11:22PM

Brad Free's Santa Anita Derby rankings - Feb. 24


It was a strange week. The Factor, the fastest 3-year-old in the West, is not expected to contest the Santa Anita Derby. Clubhouse Ride, a durable 11-start "veteran," is sidelined with an injury. Indian Winter scratched from speed-favoring Santa Anita to run instead at Turf Paradise, and talented maiden sprint winner Runflatout will be hard-pressed to stretch his speed two turns if his Feb. 21 workout was any indication.

The Factor won the Grade 2, seven-furlong San Vicente on Feb. 20. He raced gate to wire in a quick 1:20.34 over an inside-favoring track, and earned a 102 Beyer. But the Derby does not seem likely. The Factor smoked the fastest opening half of the meet (43.41 seconds) for seven furlongs; he tired late and ran his final furlong in 13 seconds. "He doesn't want to be behind horses, so I just let him be comfortable and he kept going," jockey Martin Garcia said.

Although he benefited from a surface that favored the inside (and subsequently favored speed), The Factor deserves credit. He had missed training with foot issues, had only two works, and was making just his third start. Nonetheless, it will be a surprise if trainer Bob Baffert pushes him down the Derby trail, although he is considering the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby on March 27. The Factor stays off the Santa Anita Derby rankings, at least for now.

Sway Away, San Vicente runner-up, joins the rankings, although his rally was partly an illusion. The Factor's 13-second final quarter allowed Sway Away to close more than four lengths. Of course, a 12-and-change finish is not bad, considering it was his first start in six months and first after having a chip removed from a knee.

"This horse is the best Derby chance I've had in many years," trainer Jeff Bonde said. "He's nominated here [Santa Anita], and he's nominated at Oaklawn. It will be one or the other."
Clubhouse Ride was diagnosed with a slight ankle fracture that trainer Craig Lewis described as a "hair-hair-hairline." No surgery is required.

"I'm thinking in 45 days he can resume training," Lewis said.

Clubhouse Ride made his debut in April, raced at least once a month through January, and won 2 of 11 while placing in three graded stakes. Clubhouse Ride is off the Derby trail.

Indian Winter scratched from the San Vicente after trainer Jerry Hollendorfer observed the track was favoring inside speed Feb. 20. Indian Winter, a closer, was entered in the $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby on Saturday.
Runflatout, sharp Jan. 29 maiden sprint winner with a 96 Beyer, is aiming for his second career start March 12 in the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 San Felipe.

"It is ambitious," trainer John Sadler said, "but I want to try to make the big ones."

Sadler's comments were made before Runflatout worked five furlongs Feb. 21. It was not a good work. Runflatout pulled hard on jockey Garrett Gomez and appeared very aggressive while tracking a workmate. Runflatout rallied to even terms with the workmate into the lane and finished on his own, five furlongs in 1:01.

Runflatout is a good, fast horse. Based on the workout, he may have difficulty rationing his speed at two turns. Sadler has time to work Runflatout two more times before the San Felipe.

The San Felipe is the final local prep race for the Santa Anita Derby. Likely starters for the San Felipe include Jaycito, first start since the Breeders' Cup; Bench Points, 4 for 4 in sprints; and Comma to the Top, who flubbed finishing fourth Feb. 12 at Golden Gate.

Santa Anita Derby rankings
1. Silver Medallion
2. Comma to the Top
3. Jaycito
4. Indian Winter
5. Awesome Patriot
6. Anthony's Cross
7. Riveting Reason
8. Bench Points
9. Sway Away
10. Astrology

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