06/28/2012 2:40PM

Hollywood Park: Baffert confident The Factor will run big in Triple Bend

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Shigeki Kikkawa
The Factor, idle since finishing sixth in Dubai in March, has been training well for his return in the Triple Bend Handicap.

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.