NEW ORLEANS, LA – Proving once again why lone speed on turf is dangerous, Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This took the field from flags fall to that’s all as he wired Saturday’s $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Breaking sharply from post 9 under Shaun Bridgmohan at 9/1 odds, Factor This immediately struck his way to the lead, crossing over safely in the front stretch before tucking in along the rail in the clubhouse turn. While Marzo watched closest early on, Factor This posted unpressured opening fractions of :23.49, :47.94, and 1:11.46.
Straightening for home still unchallenged, Factor This was given the green light near the 1/8 pole and, despite swapping back to his wrong lead, proved best under steady urging. The Brad Cox trainee crossed 3 lengths clear in a final time of 1:47.21 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course.
“He ran his eyes out today,” Bridgmohan said. “Brad and everyone did a great job. I reaped the benefits, they are the ones that did all the hard work. He is a very cool horse to ride because basically you just have to sit there and let him do what he wants and he always gives you his run late.”
Dontblamerocket improved from his stalking position to take second by 3/4 of a length over a rallying Rockemperor, who had to go seven-wide in the stretch after running near the rear in the early stages. Aquaphobia took fourth, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of a three-way photo for fifth that went to Synchrony by a neck and a nose, respectively, over Instilled Regard (the 2/1 favorite) and Marzo.
Channel Maker, Henley’s Joy, Bundibunan, Dot Matrix, and Secretary At War completed the order of finish. Captivating Moon was scratched after his connections opted to compete in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) one race prior on the main track, where he finished second.
Factor This’ win was his second straight, having won Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) on February 15 in similar gate-to-wire fashion. The 5-year-old son of The Factor now sports a record of 28-9-3-4 with $725,030 earned. His current connections claimed him for $62,500 on August 8, 2018.
“Big performance,” Cox said. “That’s two graded stakes in a row for him. Shaun did a great job. Obviously knows him well. He ran a great race going a mile and a half at Kentucky Downs last summer (in the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes [G3], where he finished fourth). 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.”
Factor This returned $21 to win, $10.20 to place, and $6 to show. Dontblamerocket brought back $10.80 to place and $6.20 to show, while Rockemperor paid $5.20 to show.