It was a pretty good day, as well. Earlier on the Futurity card, Hofmans and Bailey teamed up to take the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) with George Krikorian's Starrer.
Taking on a proven field of older fillies and mares, the 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer found herself in the thick of things early. Leaving the backstretch, she began a simultaneous attack with Queenie Belle, eventually shedding Feverish near the quarter pole. Queenie Belle hung tough through a mile in 1:36.13, where Starrer finally edged ahead for good. The final margin was a length.
With the abrupt retirement of Golden Ballet last summer, Starrer looked to be the right one to take the baton after her stylish effort in Hollywood's Princess Stakes (gr. II). Instead, the filly dumped jockey Chris McCarron at the start of the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), then spent the next few months trying to get back on track.
Hofmans, however, admits Starrer is now as good as she's ever been, a direct result of adequate time between her races. She'll turn up next in Santa Anita's upcoming La Canada series for 4-year-old fillies.
Though Officer won't have any roses in his future, Baffert can look ahead to a promising spring with Habibti. A bust at the Breeders' Cup herself, the 2-year-old Tabasco Cat filly got back on the beam Dec. 16, holding off You in a thrilling rendition of the $358,000 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles.
Looking as lean as a panther, Habibti swept into contention on the far turn of the Starlet, leaving 4-5 favorite You behind in midstretch. You, though, fought back and made it a nail-biter to the wire. They crossed the finish a head apart in 1:43.12. Habibti is owned by Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp.