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Apr 15, 2011

The Factor one to beat in Arkansas Derby


Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Rebel Stakes winner The Factor is the heavy favorite in Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby. The 1 1/8-mile race has attracted a field of 13 Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

In 2004 Smarty Jones won the Arkansas Derby and then went on to capture the Run for the Roses and Preakness Stakes. Curlin followed in 2007 by winning the Arkansas Derby, Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, The Factor will start from the post three and is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. Trained by Bob Baffert, The Factor notched a 6 1/4- length win over Caleb's Posse in the Rebel at Oaklawn last month.

"It was pretty amazing what he did," said Baffert about the Rebel victory.

Owned by Fog City Stable and George Bolton, The Factor has $304,680 in lifetime earnings and has won three of four career starts. He was fourth in his initial start last November at Hollywood Park and came back a month later to win by 8 1/4-lengths.

"He just does everything really easy and he's getting better," Baffert noted. "His stride is efficient. He jumps a long ways and gets up to speed really quickly. Other horses really have to work at it. Not him. He just goes and does his thing. He's one dimensional, for sure. The only thing that could be a problem with a full field would be if he didn't break well, but that's the situation for pretty much any horse."

Sway Away, sixth in the Rebel, is back for another shot at The Factor. The second choice in the Rebel, Sway Away is 6-1 for Saturday and will break from post five with jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard.

The colt, trained by Jeff Bonde and co-owned by Batman Stable, was second to The Factor in the San Vicente Stakes two months ago at Santa Anita. Sway Away has earned $76,600 in four career starts, which includes a second in the Best Pal Stakes to J P's Gusto last summer at Del Mar.

Rebel runner-up Caleb's Posse is also back for the Arkansas Derby. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, the colt will be ridden by Eddie Razo Jr. from post six and is 10-1 in the program along with entrymate Alternation.

"Hopefully he can get the right trip because this horse is push-button," said Razo. "He can go inside, he can go outside, he can sit near the front. When you have the kind of turn-of-foot as he does, it makes it easy. From the first time I rode him, it's just been a matter of figuring out what we wanted to do out there. He is getting stronger and he's maturing. He likes the track and the way he travels in the mornings tells me he has what it takes for big races like Saturday."

Razo has been aboard Caleb's Posse the last three starts and four times overall. The pair won the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn in January, but finished sixth in the track's Southwest Stakes behind Archarcharch.

"If somebody can go with him (The Factor), it will make a lot of difference," said Razo. "I know he's a nice horse and he ran really well, and especially up the backside, that horse was just running along with his head up in the air and with the way the track was playing to speed, but hopefully next time somebody can go with him to at least make it a little tougher."

Owned by McNeil Stables, Caleb's Posse has won four of nine career starts for $243,304. Last year he was third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity and won the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park.

Alternation, also trained by Von Hemel, will be ridden by Luis Quinonez from post eight.

Here is the complete field for the Arkansas Derby in post position order: Nehro, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Elite Alex, Calvin Borel, 8-1; The Factor, Martin Garcia, 7-5; Brethren, Ramon Dominguez, 10-1; Sway Away, Patrick Valenzuela, 6-1; Caleb's Posse, Eddie Razo Jr., 10-1; Truman's Commander, Israel Ocampo, 30-1; Alternation, Luis Quinonez, 10-1; Dance City, Javier Castellano, 15-1; Archarcharch, Jon Court, 12-1; J P's Gusto, Cliff Berry, 15-1; J W Blue, Joe Rocco Jr., 30-1 and Saratoga Red, Terry Thompson, 30-1.

Expected post-time for the Arkansas Derby is 7 p.m. (et).

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