02/25/2012 7:32PM

Santa Anita: The Factor wires San Carlos Stakes for red-hot Baffert

Benoit & Associates
The Factor scores a front-running victory in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The Factor is unbeatable at seven furlongs, the latest evidence a front-running win in Saturday’s $200,000 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita.

This time, for his fourth career win at the distance, The Factor spoiled the 2012 debut of Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011, who could only finish third.

The Factor is the latest success for the red-hot trainer Bob Baffert, who has won with 15 of his last 16 runners dating back to Game On Dude’s win in the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 4.

In the Grade 2 San Carlos, The Factor ($3.40) took his expected position at the front, set moderate fractions of 22.55 and 44.50 seconds, and held off a late threat from Sway Away to win by a half-length in 1:20.56. Amazombie finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Sway Away in the field of five.

“I’m glad The Factor showed up,” Baffert said. “He was blowing pretty good when he came back.”

While The Factor led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole, the margin was reduced at the wire.

“They came to him, and he took off,” Baffert said.

Sway Away, unraced since June, closed from fifth.

“There was no pace, and that’s the way life goes,” trainer Jeff Bonde said. “That’s a good horse that beat us.”

Amazombie was third on the backstretch and second in the stretch, but could not hold off Sway Away to preserve second.

The result was not without a moment of suspense. The stewards conducted a five-minute inquiry into the stretch run after fourth-place finisher Canonize took up behind The Factor. The stewards ruled that The Factor was not at fault.

The San Carlos was The Factor’s first start since a win in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here Dec. 26. A 4-year-old War Front colt owned by George Bolton and David Shimmon, The Factor has won 6 of 10 starts and $772,180. He is unbeaten in four starts over seven furlongs in his career.

Baffert mentioned the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai on March 31 as a possibility for The Factor’s next start, but downplayed the Royal Ascot meeting in England in June. Bolton had mentioned Royal Ascot as a possibility in the past.