The Factor dominated the Grade 2 $300,000 Rebel Stakes this weekend and made it known that he will be a factor for all others to contend with in the Kentucky Derby. Stretching out to two turns for the first time, The Factor, trained by Bob Baffert, showed that he was not just a sprinter and could indeed go the distance. He took the lead at the start and never let another horse get near him. The Factor, ridden by Martin Garcia, set a lightning fast pace with longshot Saratoga Red and Southwest Stakes winner Archarcharch trailing him. Neither was able to get within more than a length of The Factor.
Throughout the 1 1/16 mile race, the only horse that appeared to make a major move was 24-1 Caleb's Posse. He was five wide going into the turn and was able to outrun Archarcharch by a neck for second. Still, Caleb's Posse finished 6 1/4 lengths behind The Factor. Completing the field were Saratoga Red, JW Blue, Sway Away, JP's Gusto, Picko's Pride, and Bluegrass Jam. Alternation was scratched by track veterinarians after tossing his rider and flipping over in the starting gate. Elite Alex, Dreaminofthewin, and Glint were scratched earlier in the day.
Key things to take away from this race:
1) The Factor showed he can handle a route distance and returned his second consecutive Beyer speed rating of 103, which is practically unheard of in three-year-olds this early in their career. He appears to be a formidable foe for Todd Pletcher's Uncle Mo.
2) JP's Gusto just didn't seem to fire in this race. He was second in the Southwest Stakes which was his first race this season, so one would have thought he'd do as well or better in his second race back. Time will tell if he can return to his two-year-old form.
3) Sway Away was a bit of a disappointment. He was sent off as the second choice behind The Factor and appeared on paper to be the second fastest in the field and the one most likely to catch The Factor. He may have had a troubled trip, so we could forgive him this race, or maybe the distance was his problem.
In other news, Rouge Romance, who finished third behind Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star stakes, is off the Derby trail with a fracture in his left forefoot that should take 2-3 months to heal. He should be able to return to racing, but will miss the Derby.
Coming up this weekend is the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby which will be headlined by Mucho Macho Man.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby