Red Door Drive has been a gem of consistency for Bob Baffert since the Hall of Fame trainer received the 6-year-old Sky Mesa horse 14 races ago after an absence of one year. Owner Arnold Zetcher hopes form continues for the Kentucky-bred bay in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 on dirt.

Red Door Drive, who has been ridden by Martin Pedroza in each of those 14 races, has won on turf and synthetic but will be seeking his first stakes win in the San Pasqual, a major steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

“I think dirt is probably his best game,” Zetcher said at Clockers’ Corner Thursday morning. “Since that break (from Sept. 25, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009), he’s been unbelievably consistent.” During that span, Red Door Drive has risen from the maiden claiming ranks to place in two stakes, the Windy Sands Handicap on Sept. 4, and the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap on Sept. 26. He has finished worse than fifth only once in that period.

“He has a different style than Spurrier (a stone closer Zetcher also has entered in the San Pasqual),” the owner continued. “Red Door Drive stalks and he’s up near the front, and Spurrier comes from behind, so we’ll see.”

Pedroza and Red Door Drive have become inseparable since Sept. 30, 2009, when the 45-year-old Panamanian began his 14-game consecutive streak in partnership with the horse.

“There’s no story behind their pairing,” Zetcher said. “It’s just that Pedroza has ridden him very well and he’s been very consistent, so he stays with him.”

The field for the San Pasqual, which goes as the seventh of nine races: Aggie Engineer, Joe Talamo; Quindici Man, Patrick Valenzuela; Ryehill Dreamer, Garrett Gomez; Dakota Phone, Joel Rosario; Spurrier, Rafael Bejarano; and Red Door Drive, Martin Pedroza. Each horse carries 118 pounds except Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Dakota Phone, who totes 123.


The Factor, a gray 3-year-old son of War Front who stamped himself as a horse to watch for the Kentucky Derby on May 7 by winning at Santa Anita on opening day in track record time, is getting regular international exposure on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Bill O’Reilly’s top-rated cable news show on the Fox News Network.

For the second consecutive week, The Factor’s 8 1/4 length victory in 1:06.98 for six furlongs aired on O’Reilly’s “Pinheads and Patriots,” segment, with this week’s version broadcast this past Monday night. Viewers this week e-mailed whether they thought the horse was a “patriot” or a “pinhead” for his performance, and 92 percent concluded he was indeed red white and blue.

Trevor Denman’s exhilarating call assuredly piqued their interest, to wit: “Into the turn they go and The Factor striding away up front, The Factor by a length . . . they are coming past the quarter pole, The Factor the leader . . . homeward bound, The Factor still full of run out here, and The Factor just gets the reins shaken at him, he’s opening up four, five as they come to the sixteenth pole. They would need to SPROUT WINGS to catch The Factor, super, super impressive, couldn’t get any better than that. The Factor romping in.”

After the horse hit the finish line, O’Reilly, beaming like a proud father who had bet a bundle, said this: “Yes! I had big money . . . no (not really). The horse broke the course record at Santa Anita Park in California. It’s owned by George Bolton (of San Francisco) who apparently is a big Factor fan. Ninety two percent of The Factor’s record-breaking performance is considered patriotic by you guys, eight percent said the whole thing is pinheaded.”

Stay tuned.

FINISH LINES: Omar Berrio was back in the saddle Thursday morning after suffering an apparent stroke following the races a week ago today. “He worked three horses for me this morning,” said trainer A.C. Avila, a long-time friend of the 42-year-old Panamanian jockey, who gets first call on Avila’s horses. “Omar will have to watch his diet, stay away from salt, things like that, to keep his blood pressure under control,” Avila said . . . Steve Asmussen is on hand at Santa Anita “for a couple days. It’s time to be here,” the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said after Sham Stakes candidate Tapizar worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in 1:12.40 . . . Mike Machowsky plans to run California-bred Caracortado in the Sunshine Millions, but is undecided on turf or dirt. “Either one,” the trainer said, “although I really don’t want to ship. We’ll see how it goes.” The $500,000 Classic at 1 ¼ miles on dirt will be run at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29, the $300,000 Turf at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita the same day . . .

Beverly D winner Éclair de Lune, who scratched out of Saturday’s Robert J. Frankel stakes, worked five furlongs on turf Thursday in 1:02.20 (dogs up) for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally . . . John Shirreffs, a mainstay at Hollywood Park where queen Zenyatta made her home, has 20 head on hand at Santa Anita . . . The Usual Q.T., third in the San Gabriel Stakes on Dec. 27, worked five furlongs on turf Thursday in :59.20 for Jim Cassidy, who is pointing the multiple graded stakes winner to the Sunshine Millions Turf . . . Santa Anita morning line oddsmaker Jon White, who also provides paddock commentary for HRTV, points out that San Gabriel entrants Quindici Man (by Came Home) and Spurrier (by Dixieland Band) are half-brothers . . . Paco Gonzalez has no Came Homes or Free Houses in his barn these days, but the 65-year-old trainer is content caring for six horses at Santa Anita, all of them 4-year-olds . . . Bitt a Heat, a 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat who runs in today’s fifth race, is owned by Ivan and Denise Shoemaker. Ivan is a half-brother to the late riding legend, Bill Shoemaker.


Jockey Standings

Jockey Mounts 1st 2nd 3rd Win % Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 47 15 10 4 32% $728,280
Joel Rosario 43 10 7 6 23% $746,034
Joseph Talamo 39 7 6 5 18% $269,478
Patrick Valenzuela 42 6 5 7 14% $269,560
Martin Pedroza 31 6 2 4 19% $185,780
Garrett Gomez 29 4 6 7 14% $398,828
Alonso Quinonez 29 4 0 2 14% $137,343
Alex Gonzalez 8 2 0 1 25% $27,320

(Seven jockeys tied with one win each)

Trainer Standings

Trainer Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Win % Money Won
Bob Baffert 14 6 3 1 43% $268,080
Doug F. O'Neill 25 5 6 3 20% $258,462
John W. Sadler 8 4 0 2 50% $448,080
Mike R. Mitchel 8 3 3 0 38% $74,100
Jerry Hollendorfer 14 3 1 2 21% $146,100
Jack Carava 9 3 0 1 33% $46,760
Ronald W. Ellis 6 2 1 2 33% $60,920
Richard E. Mandella 9 2 1 0 22% $84,590
Victor L. Garcia 6 2 0 2 33% $68,840
Jeff Mullins 6 2 0 1 33% $32,520