The Factor favored in Arkansas Derby
The Factor is the solid 7-5 choice to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby and then move on to the Kentucky Derby in three weeks as one of the favorites.
Trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, The Factor drew the No. 3 post Wednesday in a topflight field of 13 3-year-olds going 1-1/8 miles.
The Factor returns to Oaklawn Park, where he won the 1-1/16-mile Rebel by 6-1/4 lengths last month for his third straight gate-to-wire win.
Louisiana Derby runner-up Nehro, who drew the rail, is the 5-1 second choice. Sway Away is 6-1.
The Factor, named for Bill O'Reilly's television show, needs a strong effort to move on to Churchill Downs for the Derby on May 7.
''He's just gotta do well that last one-eighth-mile for us to go to Churchill in three weeks,'' Bolton said.
The Derby distance is 1-1/4 miles.
Baffert wasn't thinking Kentucky Derby for The Factor early on because of his early speed. But the colt has continued to excel as the race distances became longer.
''After his maiden win, Bob just couldn't slow him down,'' Bolton said. ''He had a bruised foot and was working rank. But after (winning) the San Vicente, he started to calm down and Bob said, 'Look, this horse is starting to figure it out and starting to not be rank in the workouts.' I think he can stretch out if that happens. His stride is so good and he's so efficient.''
The Factor can expect early pressure from the likes of J P's Gusto, who finished seventh in the Rebel. J P's Gusto drew the No. 11 post and is 15-1. Also entered are the second- and third-place finishers in the Rebel, Caleb's Posse and Archarcharch.
The other important Kentucky Derby prep race Saturday is the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Santiva is the 3-1 favorite in a race that seems wide open, from a handicapping perspective. Twelve horse will run 1-1/8 miles.