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Kentucky Confidential


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.

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Thanks, John! I had forgotten all about Street Sense breaking my heart…and you had to go and resurrect the G-Dd crime scene.

(Believe me, it got a lot worse when after the race, I realized that in my preposterous overconfidence, I had forgotten to bet Hard Spun – my hero – to PLACE. Last year, betting on Ice Box to win AND place was Window Job One. Thank goodness for that lollygagging jockey who thought he had 2nd all wrapped up…)

Great site, and also, Ray and Brad thank you for babysitting this reader, so they can get some work done for a change.

Posted by Don Reed on April 28, 2011 @ 2:29 am

Question: How often does a speed horse win the Derby?

Posted by Mark on April 28, 2011 @ 8:42 am

I refuse to do research for an ex-sportswriter. (I’ll put someone on it!)

Posted by John Scheinman on April 28, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

Author PhotoJohn Scheinman, a long-time writer and editor, covered thoroughbred racing for The Washington Post from 2000-09. He won the Red Smith Kentucky Derby writing contest for best advance in 2007. He is a correspondent for the Thoroughbred Times. Scheinman also has worked extensively in humor writing and sketch comedy. He lives in Washington, DC. More by  ›