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Hollywood Park: Baffert confident The Factor will run big in Triple Bend
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The conclusion was quick and to the point.
The sixth-place finish by The Factor in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai is best forgotten, trainer Bob Baffert said.
“The Dubai race is a throw-out,” Baffert said. “He was dull and flat.”
A repeat of that performance in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park is not expected.
“He’s doing well,” Baffert said.
[HOLLYWOOD PARK: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]
Typical of a Baffert-trained runner, The Factor has had a series of quick workouts in recent weeks, notably six furlongs from the gate in 1:11.60 at Hollywood Park on June 14. A winner of five stakes, The Factor must be at his best in the Grade 1 Triple Bend, which is run over seven furlongs.
The race drew nine entrants – the stakes winners Camp Victory, Comma to the Top, Italian Rules, Mobilized, Smiling Tiger, and Tres Borrachos – and the stakes-placed runners Centralinteligence and Don Tito.
Several runners have ample speed, including The Factor, an issue that concerns Baffert.
“There is nothing but speed in there,” Baffert said.
The Factor has led or disputed the pace throughout his stakes wins, sometimes carrying that speed to the wire and sometimes fading from contention. The style was successful in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in December and Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes in February at Santa Anita, but failed when he faded to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes last October and finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs last November.
The Factor could take pressure from Comma to the Top, who set the pace in the 2011 Kentucky Derby but wound up 19th; and Italian Rules, who won a six-furlong optional claimer here on May 24.
Smiling Tiger won the 2011 Triple Bend by leading throughout. In his two starts this year, he has had trouble at the start, finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 5 and third in the Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont Park. A better start could make him a danger, as part of the pace or a stalker.
If the pace is too hot, closers such as Camp Victory, Centrailinteligence, and Tres Borrachos could be dangerous.
Tres Borrachos, the winner of the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap last summer, is making his stakes debut around one turn in his 39th start. The 7-year-old Tres Borrachos is trained by Marty Jones.
Centralinteligence and Camp Victory were second and third in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap on May 28 behind Roman Threat, who is being held out of the race for the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar next month.
Centralinteligence is seeking his first stakes win in the Triple Bend, and his fourth win in nine starts. Centralinteligence was 10th in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes last December, losing all chance when he was in tight with three furlongs remaining.
“He’s a more seasoned horse now,” trainer Ron Ellis said.
A victory by Camp Victory would be a poignant one. His trainer, Mike Mitchell, was hospitalized on Wednesday because of a brain tumor, and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday.
I'm sure BB has The Factor primed and ready for this race. The scratch of Comma To The Top is an interesting development. Smiling Tiger is interesting (that name always reminds me of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for some reason). And I'm looking for Centralinteligence to show better than he showed in the Malibu. And the weather will be ideal on the West Coast this weekend, that should make it pleasurable for horses and people alike. Good luck to all contenders in this race.
Comma to the Top scratching to go in Sunday's Kerlan Stakes is a big development. Comma was coming off a 5 furlong turf win where he ran the half in sub-44, so he was going to be out there disputing the pace, and he has a lot of back class. With him in the field, there were 2, and possibly 3, speed horses to the outside of The Factor. This would have been key because The Factor struggles when he has to run on the inside of a fast pace. The Factor can run really fast early, like he did in last year's San Vicente(while on the outside), and he can do just fine while racing on the inside(with a 44+ half). But when the pace is really fast(sub-44) AND he is to the inside, he becomes vulnerable. With Comma out, that leaves Italian Rules, to the outside of The Factor, as the main pace challenger to The Factor. Italian Rules is coming off a 6 furlong win where he went 44 and 1, which for the Hollywood surface this year is very fast. 3 back he was able to outsprint the very good Capital Account on his way to a victory. And while Italian Rules is light on class, remember that The Factor was done in by a hopeless longshot in the Ancient Title. Even if Italian Rules does show big early speed, The Factor is going to benefit from the race being at 7 furlongs. I believe The Factor is better at 7 than 6 furlongs because at the former distance he rarely is forced to run sub-44 halves. If Italian Rules only pushes The Factor through a first half slower than 44 and 4, The Factor is likely gone. Any faster, however, and I think The Factor will be in for a fight. Smiling Tiger has been a personal favorite. He's a 6-time graded stakes winner and a 3-time grade 1 winner. He loves Hollywood Park and 7 furlongs is in his wheelhouse. his performance in last year's Triple Bend, leading throughout while scoring a 112 Beyer, is in my opinion the best sprint effort in California the last 2+ years. However, even at his best, Smiling Tiger is notorious for missing the break. And, off his 2 races thus far this year, it would be difficult to claim that Smiling Tiger is at his best right now. Most troubling is that he's failed to show any speed this year, and in the True North he basically walked out of the gate. Its hard to envision him showing enough speed to compromise The Factor early. Thus, with only Italian Rules as an early challenger, The Factor should win the Triple Bend. If Italian Rules is able to take just enough out of him, I like Centralinteligence to benefit from a stalking position. Centralinteligence is in career form, he really likes Hollywood and his runner-up effort in the LA Cap was strong because I think Roman Threat is one of the top 6 furlong sprinters in the country. Camp Victory is an honest stalker and he likes Hollywood. For 3rd. Mobilized the best closer in the field for 4th.
, to the top.
thank god for blogs. it gives us a better understanding of how many really dumb-asses there are in the gambleing public. have a nice day. "an ole railbird".
Not much mention in this article about which horses like what surface. What is The Factors record on synthetic? Oh and isn't Smiling Tiger undefeated at Hollywood?
Glad to see The Factor racing without Lasix. Hope to see a lot of other owner/trainers run their horses without it, as well.
The factor is a nice horse. Very fast.
My prayers go out to a fine horseman.
Horses rarely do well in their first race back from Dubai, I won't be using the Factor on any tickets Saturday
And now Pletcher's gonna end up with a barnful of Baby Bodies...