By MICHAEL COMPTON
Every athlete or sports team gets on a roll. Momentum works in horse racing as well. Trainer Bob Baffert is proof.
The veteran conditioner’s current streak of stakes success continued on Saturday at Santa Anita when The Factor won the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes (G2).
Baffert shared credit for his stable’s remarkable run. “Like I’ve said, I’ve got a great staff,” he commented. “They work hard, everybody’s focused right now. That’s why we’re doing well. We’re picking the right spots for these horses, and that’s the most important thing.”
The Factor’s half-length victory over Sway Away in the seven-furlong event represented the 16th victory in 17 races at Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields and Oaklawn Park for the Hall of Fame trainer.
With regular rider Martin Garcia in the saddle, The Factor, named for television commentator Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show, was never headed in the race and stopped the clock in a brisk 1:20.56, after covering six furlongs in an eye-opening 1:08.11. Sway Away was steadily gaining as The Factor crossed the wire. Amazombie, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner, finished 1 ¾ lengths back in third in his 2012 debut.
“I’m just glad The Factor showed up today,” Baffert said afterward. “He ran really hard. He was pretty tired when he came back, but we’re excited the way he ran. He’s always been brilliant from Day One.”
Owned by George Bolton and David Shimmon’s Fog City Stable, The Factor paid $3.40. The San Carlos’ winner’s share of the purse of $120,000 raised The Factor’s overall earnings to $772,180 from six wins in 10 starts.
“My horse was the only speed today, so nobody wanted to let him go on the lead by himself,” Garcia said in review. “My horse was really comfortable on the backstretch and that’s the way he wants to run. He’s been learning more and more every time he runs and he’s improving so much. He’s just going to get better and better.”