08/22/2011 5:44PM

Del Mar: The Factor staying home for Pat O'Brien

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Barbara D. Livingston
The Factor had been under consideration for the King's Bishop at Saratoga.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Bob Baffert always has been far more a fan of dirt racing than synthetic, but this summer, he has not been enamored with the track at Saratoga, and that's one reason why The Factor, his wickedly fast 3-year-old, is remaining at Del Mar for the Grade 1, $250,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes on Polytrack on Sunday.

Neither spot was ideal. At Del Mar, The Factor will be taking on older rivals, including Smiling Tiger, for the first time. Had he gone to Saratoga, though, The Factor would have tangled with Eclipse Award winner Uncle Mo, who, like The Factor, is returning from a layoff.

"That track at Saratoga is too demanding," Baffert said Monday morning before departing for Saratoga. "If the King's Bishop was two weeks away, we probably would have gone there, but the races are this weekend, and he's been training well here."

Indeed, The Factor has been tearing up the Del Mar track in the mornings in recent weeks. On Saturday, he flew six furlongs out of the gate in 1:10. And on Aug. 14, he worked six furlongs from the gate in 1:10.80.

The Factor has not raced since finishing seventh in the Arkansas Derby, after which a minor fracture was detected in his left hind ankle. The Pat O'Brien is at seven furlongs, the same distance at which The Factor won the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita earlier this year. He also won the Rebel at Oaklawn.

Martin Garcia will ride The Factor. In addition to The Factor and Smiling Tiger, others expected for the Pat O'Brien are Camp Victory, Crown of Thorns, and Don Tito.

Camp Victory worked four furlongs in 46.20 seconds on Monday at Del Mar, and Crown of Thorns and Don Tito each were timed in 59.80 seconds for five-furlong drills.

Baffert said Euroears, who beat Smiling Tiger in the six-furlong Bing Crosby earlier this meet, would await another six-furlong race, either the Vosburgh at Belmont Park or the Ancient Title at Santa Anita's fall meeting, both in early October