The Factor
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The Factor
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Mathea Kelley

Baffert Happy With The Factor's Outside Post

Malibu favorite off the rail for Santa Anita's opening-day seven-furlong event.

With The Factor  giving way badly after setting a hot pace from the rail in his past two starts, trainer Bob Baffert was feeling better after his grade I winner drew the far outside post for the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26.

“The outside is a much better spot for The Factor,” said Baffert, who has entered four of the 11 3-year-olds set for the seven-furlong event. The Factor has been made the lukewarm 7-2 favorite.

The Hall of Fame trainer plans to let the chips fall where they may as far as giving instructions to the riders of his quartet: Racing Aptitude (8-1) and Mike Smith; Hoorayforhollywood (8-1) and Garrett Gomez; Smash (9-2) and Rafael Bejarano; and The Factor and Martin Garcia.

The Factor, the only graded stakes winner in the Malibu field, drew the dreaded rail in his last two races -- the Oct. 8 Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I), in which he finished fourth as the 2-5 favorite, and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 5, in which he faded to eighth, beaten nearly 12 lengths.

Asked if The Factor would be sent once again from the more advantageous post, Baffert said, “I don’t know. I just let Martin ride his race. There’s a lot of speed in there, so I just let my jockeys ride their race and see what happens. I quit giving instructions. If you have to give instructions (to jockeys), you shouldn’t use them.”

Baffert also dismissed a Malibu mano-a-mano with fellow trainer Steve Asmussen, who entered three: Rothko (9-2), Light Up the Score (12-1), and Wine Police (8-1).

“(Rick) Dutrow (Jr.), he’s in there (with Associate),” noted Baffert, who is seeking his first win in the Malibu after failing to reach the winner’s circle with 20 previous starters. “And like I said, there’s other speed, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”

The Factor blew out four furlongs Dec. 22 on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in :48 3/5. Centralinteligence (8-1), from the Ron Ellis barn, went the same distance at the Inglewood oval in :47 3/5.