Say what's the word? Well at Belmont Park on Saturday, it was Johannesburg, who remained unbeaten when he won the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Down to defeat went the Bob Baffert-trained Officer, who was on the rail in striking position but could not handle the pressure. Later, Baffert said Officer shut down after displacing his palate.
Officer had won all five of his previous starts, but had never been challenged. He was challenged Saturday and did not have the final push, finishing fifth.
Johannesburg is trained by Aidan O'Brien, who has dominated group I racing in Europe this year. On Saturday he got a big grade I victory with three-time group I winner Johannesburg.
The colt is bred for the dirt, being by Hennessy and out of the Ogygian mare Myth. He was bred in Kentucky by Wayne Lyster and Jayeff B Stable and races for Michael Tabor and Sue Magnier.
Johannesburg ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.27 and paid $16.40, $8 and $6. He beat Repent by 1 ¼ lengths. Repent returned $25 and $13.40 and Siphonic was worth $7.90. The exacta paid $530 and the trifecta $3,665.
Came Home made the early lead, but Victor Espinoza took Officer right up alongside on the inside. Siphonic was also right there. They went the opening quarter in :23.61 and the half in :46.85. Mick Kinane had to restrain Johannesburg down the backside so he would not also join the leaders.
In the turn for home, Siphonic cut the corner and Officer was to his outside. Johannesburg joined the group late and had no trouble getting by for the victory.
"I think that Officer just blazed when he hooked Came Home," trainer Bob Baffert said of Officer. "I was afraid of Came Home. Came Home is a really good horse. For [Officer] to stop like he did, it just goes to show you that they were jamming. Officer doesn't want to run like that. He wasn't even tired after the race. He's starting to displace [his palate] easy. I thought he was empty turning for home. After first, I thought something was wrong with him. He had to have displaced because [assistant trainer] Jimmy [Barnes] said he wasn't even tired. I don't feel he got outrun, he just got displaced and shut down. But I don't want to use that as an excuse. It's just good to know for myself so I can change [his bit] and put a figure eight on him.
"But he can't be ridden like that," Baffert continued. "When he didn't break, I think [jockey] Victor (Espinoza) was worried that he'd shut him off and pinch him in. It was a lot of pressure. He rushed him. If you move (Officer), he'll go. He's easy to ride. He should have just sat behind [the pace]. When he rushed up and was fighting him, he should have just let him roll. He would have been better off to just go on with it. I knew the only way he'd get beat was if he got in a match race with Came Home and that's what happened.
Baffert said that Officer would return to California on Wednesday morning and be pointed for the Hollywood Futurity.
Jump Start, who suffered a broken leg during the stretch run of the Juvenile, was scheduled to undergo surgery Sunday.Juvenile Chart, From EquibaseBreeders' Cup Juvenile notes from the Breeders' Cup site