ARCADIA, Calif. -- The Factor, stamping himself as one of the fastest 3-year-olds in training, rocketed to the front and never looked back when capturing the Grade 2, $150,000 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs on Sunday at Santa Anita.
Over a track that promoted front-runners all day, The Factor was hustled to the front by jockey Martin Garcia, who was following the instructions of trainer Bob Baffert.
"I told Martin, 'You are the speed,' " Baffert said. "He's a freight train."
The Factor ($3.80) set fractions of 22.20 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, then ripped through the second quarter in 21.21 seconds, which took care of City Cool, who was second at that point but faded to last in the six-horse field. The Factor kicked away at the top of the stretch, passed the six-furlong mark in 1:07.31, and then was fully extended to hold safe Sway Away, who rallied powerfully from last to finish second, beaten by three-quarters of a length. Premier Pegasus was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third.
The Factor completed seven furlongs on a track rated wet-fast in 1:20.34.
Indian Winter, the third choice on the morning line, was scratched midway through the card by Jerry Hollendorfer, his trainer and co-owner, who said he did not want to run Indian Winter over a track he thought was favoring speed.
"We're not going to chase the speed on this racetrack," Hollendorfer said.
That left The Factor a heavy favorite. He set a six-furlong track record here on opening day Dec. 26, but foot problems kept him sidelined since. He had worked just twice since Jan. 9.
"I knew he was going to be short," Baffert said. "You can only get away with this with a horse of this caliber."
Garcia was riding The Factor in a race for the first time.
"There was a lot of speed, but my horse has a lot of speed," Garcia said. "The more you fight him, the more he fights you, so you just have to let him be wherever he wants to be."
The Factor, a son of War Front, is owned by George Bolton and the Fog City Stable of David Shimmon, friends from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bolton is realistic about trying to push The Factor to make races such as the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
"We'll fit his schedule," Bolton said. "He won't fit ours."