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The Factor Draws Rail For Grade I Ancient Title
By Santa Anita
“I’m No. 1,” comes the boast from an old vaudeville gag. “Yeah,” is the punch line. “And there’s nothing lower than No. 1.”
Bob Baffert might have mixed emotions about the first digit on the numerological chart. He’s No. 1 in Santa Anita’s training standings, but when it comes to post position draws, the Hall of Fame conditioner seems to live on the rail, as the saying goes.
The trend continues Saturday when The Factor breaks from the No. 1 post position in the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” event that entitles the winner to automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
“I think they put me on the rail and then draw the race,” Baffert quipped at Clockers’ Corner while multi-tasking, watching The Factor gallop and at the same time baby-sitting his six-year-old son, Bode. “I’d rather carry an extra four pounds of extra weight and be on the outside than draw the rail.”
Be that as it may, there’s no secret on strategy for The Factor once the gates open in the six-furlong race. “That’s all he knows (is to take the lead),” Baffert said of the 3-year-old gray son of War Front, who set the track record for six furlongs of 1:06.98 last Dec. 27. “A lot of these War Fronts want to go. He’s got a lot of Danzig (War Front’s sire) in him. He’s fast.”
The Factor worked a half mile at Santa on Monday and was clocked in 47 flat.
The field for the $250,000 Ancient Title, which goes as the fourth of 10 races: The Factor, Martin Garcia; Sirocco Strike, Victor Espinoza; Square Eddie, Patrick Valenzuela; Irrefutable, Rafael Bejarano; Amazombie, Mike Smith; and Mensa Heat, Joe Talamo.
Sunshine Millions Sprint winner Amazombie blew out four furlongs Wednesday in 48 flat for Bill Spawr.
CALIMONCO ON HIS TOES FOR GRADE II OAK TREE MILE SATURDAY
If I.Q. means anything, Calimonco has an edge over his rivals in Saturday’s Grade II Oak Tree Mile.
“He’s highly intelligent,” said Larry Benavidez, long-time assistant to trainer John Sadler, who is in Kentucky today preparing stakes charges for the opening of the Keeneland meet. “On his stall at Del Mar, we have a sign,” Benavidez continued: “STAY AWAY. I BITE HARD.” He’ll do that, especially if you have a helmet on.”
Antics aside, Sadler expects another solid effort from the 5-year-old Storm Cat horse in the turf event that offers $150,000 in guaranteed money.
“He ran very well in the Del Mar Mile (third, beaten a half-length on Aug. 27),” Sadler said before his departure. “It was really a good third. He lacked a little racing room at the quarter pole but ran a good, strong race. He didn’t get beat (by) very much.”
Owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod, Calimonco has a 4-7-6 record from 25 starts with earnings of $264,466.
The field for the Oak Tree Mile, Saturday’s ninth race: Victory Pete, Jose Valdivia Jr; El Gato Malo, David Flores; John Johny Jak, Rafael Bejarano; Blue Chagall, Hector Berrios; Jeranimo, Martin Garcia; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Crown of Thorns, Alonso Quinonez; Calimonco, Victor Espinoza; and Monterey Jazz, Joe Talamo.
CALIFORNIA FLAG SEEKS THIRD MORVICH WIN ON COLUMBUS DAY, MONDAY
Brian Koriner expects another strong performance in Monday’s Grade III Morvich Stakes from 2008 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner California Flag, a nine-time winner who has won the Morvich twice before and who has traveled to the Orient and the Middle East in his 23-race career during which the 7-year-old California-bred gelding has earned $1,168,825 for owner/breeder Hi Card Ranch.
If not, the gray son of Avenue of Flags could be retired.
“He was a good horse at the time, so you hope that happens,” Koriner said, reflecting on California Flag’s sojourns overseas late in 2009 and in 2010. “That’s what the plan is, to run and win at the top level. That’s why we’re all in it, right? But he’s doing really good right now, so hopefully he runs good on Monday. If he doesn’t run real good, he’ll probably be retired.”
California Flag was fifth in his most recent race, the Pirates Bounty at Del Mar on Sept. 7. Daily Racing Form’s trouble line reads “bobbled start, inside,” but Koriner tends to dismiss that as a reason for the performance.
“He stumbled a little bit; it wasn’t much,” Koriner said. “He ran good in that race. He was loaded at the top of the lane and he was a little short, I think. He was looking for somewhere to go. At the top of the lane if he had somewhere to go he probably would have been right on the lead and still would have got beat. But he probably would have only got beat a length and a half instead of 2 ¼ lengths.”
Probable for the Morvich; Al Instante, Hector Berrios; California Flag, Patrick Valenzuela; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo; and Leroy’s Dynameaux, Rafael Bejarano.