"We've got two more preps," trainer Bob Baffert said on a frenetic Sunday morning at Santa Anita, where he worked Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful THE FACTOR (War Front) among others before hopping a plane for the Keeneland two-year-old in training sale that starts Monday.
San Vicente (G2) and Rebel (G2) winner The Factor worked six furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:12 1/5 under regular rider Martin Garcia, who will be at Oaklawn Park Saturday to ride the colt in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
The gray star missed earning the bullet by one tick behind three other horses who went in 1:12, including older stablemates Game on Dude (Awesome Again), the Santa Anita H. (G1) hero, and Mythical Power (Congaree).
The Factor, who "worked great" according to Baffert, is set to fly from Ontario International Airport, east of Los Angeles, to Arkansas early Tuesday morning.
On his previous trip to Oaklawn, The Factor posted a dominating 6 1/2-length win in the March 19 Rebel, advancing his career record to three-for-four. A similar tour-de-force in the Arkansas Derby would solidify him as a Kentucky Derby favorite in the wake of the loss by champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct Saturday.
But Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, knows better than to take anything for granted.
"Lots can happen between now and then (May 7)," Baffert said. "I just worry about my own horses."
Baffert's other Derby hopefuls are MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE (War Chant), the 13-1 upset winner of this past Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (G1), and Grade 1 winner JAYCITO (Victory Gallop), who was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby because of a bruise to his right front foot.
"Midnight Interlude came out of his race well, The Factor worked this morning and we're working on Jaycito's foot. He's not favoring it today so that's a good sign."
If he continues to progress as expected, Jaycito is scheduled to go in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on April 23.
"Midnight Interlude was a big surprise yesterday," Baffert admitted. "I was hoping he would show me something, but you never know. You hold your breath and you're sitting on pins and needles."
It was a record sixth Santa Anita Derby win for Baffert, who became the first trainer since the late H.A. (Jimmy) Jones to win both the Big 'Cap and the Santa Anita Derby in the same year. Jones did it in 1953 with Chanlea (Derby) and Mark-Ye-Well (Big 'Cap). Both horses were ridden by Eddie Arcaro for Calumet Farm.
In other post-Santa Anita Derby news, trainer Steve Asmussen gave an update on SILVER MEDALLION (Badge of Silver), who finished fourth as the 5-2 favorite.
"Pleased with how Silver Medallion came out of the race," Asmussen said. "He goes to Churchill with the bulk of the barn on the 14th (of April) as previously scheduled. I haven't spoken with (owners) Mr. Marshall or Mr. Ryan yet this morning about what we're going to point him towards."
As for how this Santa Anita meet went, Asmussen said, "We're extremely pleased. I think we were very fortunate to have some nice horses, and I think we can do better."