In Stunner, Officer Entered in Cal Cup Juvenile; Stevens to Ride
Updated: Saturday, November 3, 2001 4:36 PM
Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 9:38 PM
Officer won the Del Mar Futurity for one of his five victories.
In a surprise move, trainer Bob Baffert on Wednesday entered Officer, beaten favorite in last Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), in Saturday's $125,000 California Cup Juvenile.
"It was a last-minute deal," Baffert said following the post position draw. "but I thought about it yesterday (Tuesday) when he came back (from Belmont Park). He wasn't tired after that race (Breeders' Cup Juvenile). When he got hooked up with Came Home (in a pace duel in the Juvenile), both riders were trying to grab their horses and sometimes you can choke them down. With the wind hitting them (down the backstretch), they can't breathe and they lose their breath. When they turned for home, they were both empty.
"But he (Officer) wasn't empty as in 'exhausted empty'," Baffert said of Officer's fifth-place finish at 7-10 odds. "He wasn't really blowing hard. I can't speak for Came Home, but he's (Officer) a better horse than that. When I got him off the van (from New York), he was full of himself, jumping. I told Richard (Richard Mulhall, manager of The Thoroughbred Corp., which owns Officer), 'If he was mine, I'd run him back in a week'. So we went and looked at him today, and I galloped him, and it was just like he didn't run, which he didn't.
Baffert said part of his reasoning behind the move centered on the fact he would have to have a "stiff work" into him if he were to run in the Dec. 15 Hollywood Futurity. Officer has won five of six starts and earned $666,200.
"In the Cal Cup Juvenile), I get to go a mile and a sixteenth with a full field of horses (14 were entered), and it's very rare to get that in California. I told Gary (Stevens, who replaces Victor Espinoza Saturday), 'maybe you can learn something about this horse right now.' We don't want to learn about it like we did with Point Given after the (Kentucky) Derby."
"We want to know what Officer's real style is now, and instead of working him (up to the Hollywood Futurity), I'd rather just run him in a race." the trainer continued. "Otherwise, I can't run this horse until Dec. 15. And the way he is, I'd have to sit on a horse that's just sitting on go. Maybe we'll get something out of this and we'll know more about Officer. I'd use this (Cal Cup) as a workout (for the Hollywood Futurity). If he gets beat, maybe he's not the horse we thought he was. But I think he is. A lot of people don't think he's the horse that he is, but believe me, he should have beat those horses."
Concerning possible criticism of the move, Baffert said: "No, I don't care about criticism. I know my horses and I wouldn't do anything like this, especially with a high-powered horse. If Joe Blow did something like this, he'd' be under heavy criticism if he gets beat. I hurt more horses in the mornings working them than I do in the afternoon. Officer didn't go that fast (in the Breeders' Cup), but for some reason, Victor said he was empty at the top of the lane, and that's not that horse. So it had to have been something to do with losing his air, and that's why he got exhausted."
Of the decision to get Stevens to ride Officer after Espinoza had been aboard in all six of the colt's starts, Baffert said, "It was a last-minute deal (deciding to enter Officer), and Victor had a mount (on Midnight Jigalo) in the race already. We're not 100 percent he'll run (Saturday), but it's pretty good right now unless he shows us something between now and then. If he were to go out the day before and look lethargic, then I won't run him. But the way he is today, I would say he'd run. Officer was actually Gary's mount from the beginning, but Gary was out of town. Victor was supposed to ride him as a one-shot deal, but then he won on him and I let Victor on him. Maybe Gary can get to know him."
In two equipment moves, Baffert said he would put a figure eight on Officer and remove the blinkers for the Cal Cup Juvenile.
The field for the Cal Cup Juvenile, in which all horses carry 118 pounds, is: Rainman's Request, Eddie Delahoussaye; Pick of the Valley, Garrett Gomez; Debonair Joe, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Green team, Alex Solis; (a) Yougottawanna, Laffit Pincay Jr.; Willie Cruise, Martin Pedroza; Bid N Ask, David Flores; Midnight Jigalo, Espinoza; (a) Surprized, Kent Desormeaux; Officer, Stevens; Mike The Tiger, Isaias Enriquez; Main Player, Tyler Baze; Lusty Latin, Iggy Puglisi; and Sharpster, Corey Nakatani.
Yougottawanna and Surprized comprise a Halo Farms, B&D Chase Thoroughbreds LLC, Hollendorfer and Morphy entry.
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