No Longer a “Factor”
The Factor winning the San Vicente Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)
The shine had already come off him, but it was still sad to see trainer Bob Baffert pull The Factor out of the Kentucky Derby today.
This was the fastest horse under consideration, an economical rocket ship who with better luck might have played the part of Hard Spun in a race without an apparent Street Sense.
The Factor is the only 3-year-old this year to have three Beyer Speed Figures above 100, and he produced them in succession. His stamina and ability to race beyond 1 1/8 miles may have been in question, but his talent was not. He added 3 1/4 lengths to his lead in the stretch of the Rebel Stakes on March 19, simply thumping subsequent Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch that day.
The Factor got ambushed at the start of the Arkansas Derby by J P’s Gusto and struggled to set up shop to stalk the leader on the first turn. In the lane, when it counted, he showed no oomph, and afterward they found he had a flipped palate, which blocks breathing.
Even minor surgery before a race as tough as the Kentucky Derby cannot be a good thing, and Baffert figured why take a chance and risk The Factor coming to ruin? Still, it’s difficult to watch him go. A ready The Factor would have been very hard on the rest of these horses in here, and unless you’re talking about Silky Sullivan, the fastest horse is also always the most exciting horse.