#KyDownsGrad Factor This takes G2 Muniz

Jennie Rees

Based on a Fair Grounds Race Course press release:

(New Orleans – March 21, 2020) – Horses who raced at Kentucky Downs' 2019 meet filled out a hefty $180.20 exacta for a $2 bet, with 9-1 shot Factor This winning his second graded stakes in a front-running performance, with 11-1 shot Dontblamerocket second. Factor This was fourth in Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles, while Dontblamerocket won a starter-allowance race.

For the second race in a row, Factor This headed into the Fair Grounds starting gate overshadowed by some of the bigger names alongside him. And for the second straight time, Gaining Ground Racing’s 5-year-old horse stole every bit of spotlight on his way to the wire.

In a virtual replay of his first graded stakes triumph at the New Orleans track last month, Factor This headed every point of call Saturday to capture the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (G2) by three lengths and stamp himself as a major player in turf male division.

After opening his 2020 campaign with a third-place run behind Dontblamerocket in the Colonel E. R. Bradley on Jan. 18, Factor This took his form to another level when he made all the going in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) Feb. 15. The Brad Cox-trained runner was allowed to set the pace as he pleased that day and he again faced little pressure in the 1 1/8-miles Muniz - with results to match.

“Big performance. Looks like he almost broke the track record,” Cox said of Factor This, who was sent off at 9-1 odds in the Muniz after going off at 8-1 in the Fair Grounds Stakes. “Last time he showed up to run. He obviously loves this track. That’s two graded stakes in a row for him. He ran a great race going a 1 ½-miles in Kentucky Downs last summer (fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes). That showed us that he was a good horse. With everything going on we will probably back off a little bit and hopefully he can run later in the spring or this summer.”

Where his stablemate Dot Matrix reared and missed the break, Factor This got away without issue out of post 9 to lead Marzo and the rest of his 11 challengers as they raced past the stands for the first time. The son of The Factor was clear by about 1 ½ lengths as he cruised down the backstretch through fractions of :23.49 and :47.94 and faced his only real challenge when Marzo got up to his flank around the far turn.

That would be as much drama Factor This would allow. When he cut the turn under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, he opened up daylight in the lane on his way to stopping the teletimer in 1:47.21 over a course rated firm.

“He ran his eyes out today. Brad and everyone did a good job,” Bridgmohan said. “I reaped the benefits, they are the ones that did all the hard work. He is a very cool horse to ride because basically he does all the work.”

Dontblamerocket made a game run to finish second, three-quarters of a length clear of Rockemperor in third.

“We had a great trip. We were right behind the winner,” said Julien Leparoux, jockey of Dontblamerocket. “Everything went for me in the stretch to make him run. Just couldn’t catch the winner, that’s it.”

Aquaphobia was fourth with 2018 Muniz winner Synchrony fifth and 2-1 race favorite Instilled Regard sixth.

Factor This was bred in Kentucky by Maccabee Farm out of the Singspiel mare Capricious Miss. He now has nine wins from 28 career starts with $725,030 in earnings.