06/28/2012 2:40PM

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

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.


JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
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.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
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.
Perl More than 1 year ago
, to the top.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Morris More than 1 year ago
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".
Ryan Jones More than 1 year ago
Really? You post calling out dumb-asses and spelled gambling wrong? Look in the mirror, railbird.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Don't know about Morris anymore Ryan. He did put out good observations n reports from the left coast but since his racist crack last week, I am done wit dat bird. Life's too short for that crap.
Dave Volkman More than 1 year ago
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?
Suzanne Thomas More than 1 year ago
Glad to see The Factor racing without Lasix. Hope to see a lot of other owner/trainers run their horses without it, as well.
John More than 1 year ago
I agree but I'll be more then a little surprised if he doesn't race with it. He couldn't race with it in Dubai and I'm thinking that's why you don't see it in the entries. Still I hope you are right
Steve Schnell More than 1 year ago
I guarantee he runs with Lasix
Frank Altieri More than 1 year ago
The factor is a nice horse. Very fast.
Jerome Moynihan More than 1 year ago
My prayers go out to a fine horseman.
t More than 1 year ago
Horses rarely do well in their first race back from Dubai, I won't be using the Factor on any tickets Saturday
AngryYankee1 More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta?
t More than 1 year ago
does anyone look at long term trends anymore in this sport? true a sprinter won the belmont, royal delta didnt fall victim to a dubai bounce but long term ill bet against sprinters in the belmont and horses running first race back from dubai
Standiforx More than 1 year ago
Game On Dude did just fine after the trip too and what might he have in common with the Factor? Nevertheless, I think your approach might be wise. This is tougher field than Royal Delta or Game on Dude faced.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And now Pletcher's gonna end up with a barnful of Baby Bodies...