02/15/2011 1:43PM

Garcia gets mount on The Factor in San Vicente

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The Factor will be ridden by jockey Martin Garcia when the speedy colt makes his 3-year-old debut in Sunday’s $150,000 San Vicente Stakes, trainer Bob Baffert said late Monday.

Garcia will replace Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard The Factor for a 8 1/4-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race in track-record time of 1:06.98 at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, the colt’s most recent start.

Baffert emphasized that the decision to replace Bejarano was not a criticism of the jockey’s performance. He said that Garcia worked The Factor last fall before the colt made his career debut. Garcia lost the mount when he was forced to return to his native Mexico in November to begin a nearly 10-week process to have a working visa renewed. Garcia returned to riding in California last month.

Joel Rosario rode The Factor to a fourth-place finish in his debut at Hollywood Park in November and was replaced by Bejarano for the Dec. 26 maiden race win.

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“It was his horse from way back,” Baffert said of Garcia. “He gets along with the horse very well. Rafael rode him fine, but Garcia has done a lot for me.”

In the last year, Garcia has become closely allied with Baffert. He was the regular rider of the Baffert-trained Lookin At Lucky, the champion 3-year-old colt of 2010, beginning with his victory in the Preakness and rode the Baffert-owned Misremembered to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap last March.

The Factor will be Baffert’s only starter in the Grade 2 San Vicente over seven furlongs. He said that Jaycito, winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood Park last October, will not run and will be pointed to the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 12.

“I don’t want to run him short,” Baffert said.

On Tuesday, Jaycito worked seven furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:25.40.

Baffert said that Bejarano, the leading rider at Santa Anita this winter, will continue to ride for his stable.

“I’ll use him,” Baffert said. “I’m going to mix it up a bit.”