It was water, water everywhere at Santa Anita Sunday morning as the heavens unleashed yet another winter storm, but it did not rain on Bob Baffert's parade.
The Hall of Fame trainer was basking in the glow of THE FACTOR's (War Front) devastating win in Saturday's Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, and said that all options were open for the colt's next race.
The Factor thrust himself front and center into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture with a wire-to-wire victory in the Rebel, winning the 1 1/16-mile test by 6 1/4 lengths under Martin Garcia. The once-beaten colt easily drew off in the stretch drive.
"He looked good today, he ate up well and all reports are positive," Baffert said by telephone Sunday morning. "I think he comes back to Santa Anita tomorrow. I don't know (if he'll run in the Arkansas Derby [G1]). Right now, I would say he's going back to the Arkansas Derby. (Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography).
"I could leave him at Santa Anita, but I don't know. I'm just going to get him back here and look at him and I'll let him tell me where he wants to go."
The $1 million Arkansas Derby is scheduled for April 16 going nine furlongs back at Oaklawn Park. Santa Anita's counterpart to that race is the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 9 at the same distance.
Asked if it was a concern with only a three-week gap should he run in Arkansas Derby and come back in the Run for the Roses on May 7, Baffert said, "You know what? I don't know. I just don't know. I have a lot of options with him. I could go anywhere. He's nominated everywhere. You never know where I'm going to go."
As long as The Factor stays healthy, however, the sky's the limit.
"I thought he might run like that," Baffert said of the Rebel. "He was doing that well."