10/26/2011 3:03PM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile may be best fit for speedy The Factor

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Trainer Bob Baffert says the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile may be a better option for the speedy The Factor than the Sprint.

One California speedball was replaced by another when pre-entries for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile were announced Wednesday.

When Twirling Candy was ruled out of the Dirt Mile due to injury, it seemed like California’s best chance to win that race was gone. Now, the West Coast could be strongly represented by The Factor, a seriously fast 3-year-old trained by Bob Baffert.

The Factor was one of 16 horses pre-entered for the Dirt Mile, and of nine of those 16 were pre-entered for more than one race. Owner George Bolton and Baffert listed the Dirt Mile as their first preference for The Factor over the Sprint. The field is limited to 14 and in the end it figures to be a 10- or 11-horse field.

The Factor, who won the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar at seven furlongs two starts, back, is coming off a fourth-place finish as the 2-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Ancient Title at six furlongs at Santa Anita on Oct. 8. In that race, The Factor got hooked up in a suicide speed duel with Sirocco Strike – they went 43.80 seconds for the half-mile – and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths.

Bolton said the thinking behind looking at the Dirt Mile is that if The Factor could run fractions of 22 seconds for the quarter, 45 for the half, and 1:09 for three-quarters that “probably suits his style better than 21, 43, and trying to hang on versus other speed in the Sprint.’’

“My hunch is he’d run in the Dirt Mile,’’ Bolton said.

Bolton also mentioned that Baffert has the front-running Euroears to run in the Sprint. Baffert also pre-entered Prayer for Relief in the Dirt Mile and Classic, but listed the Classic as his first preference. The Baffert-trained Irrefutable was pre-entered for the Dirt Mile, but was two-deep on the preference list. He should make it into the field, however, because so many horses are targeting other races.

Trainer Todd Pletcher pre-entered four in the Dirt Mile, but three of the four – Uncle Mo (Classic), Aikenite (Sprint), and Sidney’s Candy (Mile) – are likely to run in other races. Rule, who like Sidney’s Candy is owned by WinStar Farm, is the most likely of the quartet to run in the Dirt Mile.

Caleb’s Posse, Jackson Bend, and Trappe Shot were all pre-entered in the Dirt Mile and Sprint. It is expected that those three horses will run in the Dirt Mile.

Jersey Town, Shackleford, Tres Borrachos, Wilburn, and Tapizar round out the Dirt Mile field.