The Factor keeps it pithy in Rebel
Fog City Stable and George Bolton's THE FACTOR (War Front) made a successful two-turn debut in Saturday's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, winning in such an emphatic style as to ensure his continued presence along the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail for the immediate future. Questions surrounding The Factor's ability to harness his speed and to stay 1 1/16 miles were quickly put to rest as he took an uncontested lead, set sensible splits (for him), and opened up on his eight rivals through the stretch to win by 6 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:42.
The Rebel lost a quarter of its field between the time the race was drawn, with 13 entrants, on Thursday and when the gates finally sprung open. The defections of Dreaminofthewin (Successful Appeal) and Glint (Sharp Humor) were announced Friday, Elite Alex (Afleet Alex) was taken out Saturday morning in favor of next week's Louisiana Derby (G2), and, more dramatically, Alternation (Distorted Humor) was scratched after acting up terribly after being loaded into the gate. After several minutes delay, the Rebel field was re-loaded.
The Factor, who was expected to receive at least some minor pressure from the D. Wayne Lukas-trained maiden winner Saratoga Red (Eddington), ultimately found none at all entering the first turn. The flashy gray was up 2 1/2 lengths through a quarter in :23 1/5, maintained that same margin after a half in :46 3/5 and six furlongs in 1:10 4/5, and had plenty left in the tank to make a mockery of the competition as the 7-5 favorite. He returned $4.80, $4 and $3.20.
The next five positions were occupied by local contenders. Caleb's Posse (Posse), who captured the Smarty Jones S. two back before a slightly troubled trip in the Southwest S. (G3) last month, made steady advancement from seventh down the backside and eventually passed Southwest winner Archarcharch (Arch) by a neck for the place. At 24-1, Caleb's Posse paid $14.20 and $6.80 and completed an exacta worth $112.60. Archarcharch raced evenly in third throughout and gave back $4.20 at 7-1. Saratoga Red weakened to fourth after tracking The Factor in second early, and was immediately followed by outsider J W Blue (Sky Mesa).
Sway Away (Afleet Alex), the 9-5 second choice who also invaded from California, was a bit rank entering the first turn, fell far behind, and made only a modest rally to finish sixth in a disappointing effort. He beat 7-2 third choice J P's Gusto (Successful Appeal), Picko's Pride (Cactus Ridge) and Bluegrass Jam (Bluegrass Cat) to the wire.
This was the second consecutive victory in the Rebel for trainer Bob Baffert, who took last year's renewal with eventual Preakness S. (G1) hero and divisional champion Lookin at Lucky. Martin Garcia, who rode Lookin at Lucky for all his major wins last year save the Rebel, was aboard The Factor. Baffert said after the race that The Factor might return to Oaklawn for the April 16 $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles.
"It was pretty amazing what he did today," said Baffert, who became the fourth trainer to win back-to-back editions of the Rebel. "This was a more demanding track than Santa Anita and he probably got more out of this than any race so far."
Long well regarded, The Factor lived up to his billing with an 8 1/4-length maiden romp at Santa Anita on December 26, setting a track record of 1:06.98 for six furlongs. That was his first start on a conventional dirt track following a fourth-place run in his career debut over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track in late November. Last time, The Factor blitzed seven furlongs in 1:20 1/5 to win the San Vicente S. (G2), safely holding off Sway Away by three parts of a length after posting early splits of :22 1/5 and :43 2/5. With three wins in four starts, The Factor has now bankrolled $304,680.
Bred in Kentucky by H & W Thoroughbreds, The Factor is the first stakes conqueror out of the winning Greyciousness (Miswaki), who has also produced a juvenile colt named Fifty Five South (Cuvee) and a Run Away and Hide yearling filly. She is herself out of multiple stakes victress Skatingonthinice (Icecapade), making her a half-sister to 1999 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Champagne S. (G1) second Chief Seattle (Seattle Slew).
This is the same family as last year's Singspiel S. (Can-G3) third Perfect Shower (Perfect Soul [Ire]), who captured the 2009 Breeders' S. at Woodbine; multiple Group 1-winning Maeto (Spend One Dollar); and Grade 3 scorer Rizzi Girl (Rizzi).
Havre de Grace draws off in Azeri
Fox Hill Farms Inc.'s HAVRE DE GRACE (Saint Liam) spent the latter half of her three-year-old season knocking heads with eventual champion Blind Luck (Pollard's Vision). On Saturday, those two met for the fifth straight time in the $150,000 Azeri S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park and Havre de Grace began evening the score card when pulling off the 3 1/4-length victory under jockey Ramon Dominguez.
Going for just her second career stakes win in the Azeri, Havre de Grace settled into fourth on the backstretch while Blind Luck took up her customary rear-running position. Absinthe Minded (Quiet American) led the way on the front end through splits of :23 3/5, :47 2/5 and 1:11 3/5, with Tidal Pool (Yankee Gentleman) and Shotgun Gulch (Thunder Gulch) stalking just in behind.
Havre de Grace went after Absinthe Minded rounding the turn and quickly pulled away from that one in the stretch run. Blind Luck put in a good rally in the lane after swinging six wide around the final turn but was no match for her rival on this day as Havre de Grace continued motoring all the way to the line.
"She did everything we expected her to," trainer Larry Jones said. "She had trained very well. It was awesome. I wasn't planning on going out and equaling the stakes record (Sister Act in 1999, 1:42.01), but that was a bonus that she did it fast. She's an incredible mare."
Sent off the 8-5 second favorite in the Azeri, Havre de Grace rewarded her backers with payouts of $5.20, $2.60 and $2.20 after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.02 on the fast main track. Blind Luck, the 6-5 choice, suffered her fifth consecutive runner-up finish while easily best of the rest. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Absinthe Minded, who just held Tidal Pool by a neck on the wire. Shotgun Gulch, Kimber Lily (Sunday Break [Jpn]) and Spacy Tracy (Awesome Again) completed the order of finish.
Havre de Grace was making her first start for Jones in this spot, and handed her new conditioner his initial victory in the race. The chestnut filly was tutored by Tony Dutrow during her juvenile and sophomore seasons, and was originally scheduled to begin her career on the turf. After running third in an off-the-turf maiden at Delaware Park, Havre de Grace returned under those same conditions at that same venue in 2009 to post a 4 3/4-length win. She was seen again for nearly eight months, but returned a winner last May in an allowance at Parx Racing.
Havre de Grace made her stakes bow in the Go for Wand S. back at Delaware Park, just missing by a neck, then proceeded to run second to Blind Luck by a nose in the Delaware Oaks (G2) and a neck in the Alabama S. (G1). She gained a measure of revenge when getting her neck in front of Blind Luck on the wire of the Cotillion S. (G2) in October, but closed out her sophomore season once again running behind her rival when third to Blind Luck's second in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1).
The winner's share of the Azeri boosted Havre de Grace's career earnings to $963,175 and her line now reads 9-4-3-2. Bred in Kentucky by Nancy S. Dillman, she sold for $380,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling to her current connections. The bay miss is out of the winning Easter Bunnette (Carson City), who has since foaled the unraced juvenile filly Easterette (Hard Spun) and a yearling Bernardini colt. Easter Bunnette is herself a daughter of stakes victress and Grade 2 runner-up Toll Fee (Topsider), who is most known as the granddam of multiple Grade 1 turf queen Riskaverse (Dynaformer) as well as Grade 3 scorers Cozzy Corner (Cozzene) and Tasteyville (With Approval).
Havre de Grace's fourth dam is influential matron Missy Baba (*My Babu), whose descendants include the likes of 1991 Broodmare of the Year Toll Booth (Buckpasser) and 1992 Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise (Secretariat) as well as top sires A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) and Summer Squall (Storm Bird).
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