Lightning-fast 3-year-old The Factor, who turned heads when he broke his maiden in track record time in December, will make his much-anticipated season debut in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 20 at Santa Anita.
The Bob Baffert trained son of War Front makes his stakes debut in the seven-furlong contest against eight rivals and will be the likely favorite based on his Dec. 26 maiden score at Santa Anita when he sizzled six furlongs in a track-record time of 1:06.98 when winning by more than eight lengths. The gray/roan colt breezed once after that race but developed a foot bruise and was briefly sidelined. Baffert gave him about a month off and took him to Hollywood Park, where he has had a couple of sharp drills in preparation for the San Vicente.
Rafael Bejarano was aboard The Factor in his maiden win, but Martin Garcia gets the mount this time and they will break from post 7. Garcia was the regular workout rider on the colt last fall before he was forced to return to his native Mexico to iron out visa problems.
“I felt horrible about taking Bejarano off but there’s a reason I’m putting Martin on The Factor,” Baffert said. “He knows the horse, and he gets along with him really well. I don’t want him to go too fast.
“He’s a horse we’ve always been very high on. He has a lot of potential. Last year, we had a cannon (Lookin at Lucky). That’s what you hope for, a cannon. I’m not sure yet, but The Factor looks like a cannon. He’s brilliant.”
The Factor, who will be making his third start, is owned by Fog City Stable and George Bolton. Out of the Misawki mare Greyciousness, he was bred in Kentucky by H & W Thoroughbreds.
Baffert will also saddle Sinai, a Rockport Harbor colt who broke his maiden at Hollywood Park in December and came back to run third in the Jan. 17 San Pedro at Santa Anita. Bejarano will pick up the mount on Sinai.
The two horses that defeated Sinai in the San Pedro are also back. The winner, Indian Winter, is from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer. A son of Indian Charlie, he broke his maiden in his debut, ran third in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and came from off the pace to win the 6 1/2-furlong by a half-length. Martin Pedroza has the call.
Second in the San Pedro was City Cool. The Steve Asmussen trainee led most of the way before being run down late. He was making his sixth start in that contest, having raced at Saratoga, Belmont, Churchill Downs, and Sunland Park as a juvenile.
Carrying top weight of 120 pounds will be Premier Pegasus, undefeated in three starts for owner/trainer Myung Cho. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus will make his first start on dirt. He broke his maiden at Del Mar in July, won the Jack Goodman in October at Hollywood, and returned to the Cushion Track in November to take the Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) going seven furlongs. Those last two wins were in wire-to-wire fashion, but the dark bay/brown colt will likely not get this lead this time, as he’ll break outside of The Factor from post 8 under Alonso Quinonez.
Also in the mix is Sway Away, runner-up in the Best Pal (gr. II) last summer before being sidelined for the rest of the season.
$150,000 San Vicente (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 3YO, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Surrey Star (IRE), M E Smith, 118, J M Cassidy
2. Metropolitan Man (NY), P A Valenzuela, 118, V Cerin
3. Sway Away (KY), G K Gomez, 118, J Bonde
4. Sinai (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
5. Indian Winter (KY), M A Pedroza, 118, J Hollendorfer
6. City Cool (KY), J Talamo, 118, S M Asmussen
7. The Factor (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
8. Premier Pegasus (KY), A Quinonez, 120, M K Cho
9. Oakcrest Drive (KY), V Espinoza, 118, J M Cassidy