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Dubai Golden Shaheen:
THE FACTOR 9-1 (RaceTab, Aus) 6-1 (Paddy Power)
Offering such odds about The Factor for the Golden Shaheen is either incredibly brave or downright stupid. This is a seriously good sprinter from California, coming off two excellent wins at Santa Anita and also with top level form over a synthetic track in the book.
The Factor has produced Globeform 122p this winter and he should be favourite for the Golden Shaheen, even against the likes of Rocket Man and Sepoy. While he has been right at the top of his game in recent starts, both of those are somewhat questionable.
Rocket Man won this last year but he was dreadful in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in December and beat nothing in his comeback at Kranji this year. Sepoy seems to have been over-hyped in Australia and, though he was carrying a tough weight, his comprehensive defeat last time out was disappointing - not least since horses coming out of that race since have let the form down.
The Factor is a very fast starter and he stays 7 furlongs. His price of 6-1 is way too big. 2-1 would be more realistic. He simply must be backed and at 6-1 it makes sense to go in with an each-way bet.
Australian punters can even get 9-1 with RaceTab, who do take bets from Europeans too.
GOLDEN SHAHEEN: THE FACTOR IN FOCUS
North American stables have a terrific record in the big sprint on World Cup night, the Golden Shaheen (G1), having provided 9 of the last 12 winners of the race. This stat is obviously influenced by the years on dirt track, which is the preferred surface in the USA, at Nad Al Sheba, but the fact that the race is now run around a turn is in favour of American sprinters. One-turn sprints, that's what they are used to, and that's what they are best at. The Factor, trained by dual World Cup winning handler Bob Baffert, is therefore a strong contender. He is a fast horse who was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail last spring, and has since developed into a world class speed merchant. The one factor against this factor is that he is at his absolute best over 1400 metres, but he is a quick starter and capable of blistering early speed, so will certainly be competitive over 1200 at Meydan.
At the beginning of last year, the grey colt was considered a Kentucky Derby contender, but it soon became evident that speed, not stamina, was his forte and when he came home injured after running well below his best the Arkansas Derby (G2), Baffert shelved any plans for a trip to Churchill Downs. The setback was a blessing in disguise for The Factor, as it meant he was given a rest and could come back fresh for valuable contests in the second half of the season. When he returned to racing action in August, for the Pat O'Brien Stakes (G1), one of the most important sprints in North America, he had not raced for over four months, since the disappointment in Arkansas. Going into top level competition after such a break is not easy and, to make his task even more daunting, The Factor was facing older horses for the first time.
Baffert, who is regularly boasting a 25% strike rate, is not exactly known for ducking a challenge. Neither is The Factor. He came back with a bang in the O'Brien at Del Mar, a Californian course founded by Bing Crosby. The Factor went straight to the lead, and was very sharp around the 7-furlong Polytrack to win by almost two lengths. Such a performance over a synthetic surface made his connections start thinking of a trip to Dubai. First, there was more work to be done at home, however. He had retained his high profile status but a couple of uninspiring efforts were to follow, as he was only fourth of six in the Ancient Title (G1) at Santa Anita and no better than eighth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Was he about to fade away once more? Not at all. The Factor has come back better than ever and he served up one of the best performances seen at the prestigious Santa Anita meeting this winter when slamming his rivals by 3 ½ lengths and more in the Malibu Stakes (G1) on December 26. That was his fifth career win and the sixth followed two months later, as the son of War Front landed the San Carlos Stakes (G2) from Sway Away and Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) winner Amazombie. The Malibu and the San Carlos are both run over 7 furlongs (1,400 metres) but The Factor captured these races, and last year's O'Brien, much thanks to his blistering early speed. When he gets it right, this colt is capable of taking a couple of lengths on his rivals s soon as the gates open. Combining strong early speed with a touch of stamina works really well over the Golden Shaheen trip at Meydan. Therefore, The Factor will not be easy to beat on March 31.
Last update: 2012-03-27 04:26:33 (First published: 2012-03-27 04:02:04 )
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