Siphonic Likely Futurity Favorite; Officer Challenges

Siphonic Likely Futurity Favorite; Officer Challenges
Photo: AP/Benoit
Yougottawanna, drawing off to defeat Officer in the California Cup Juvenile.
From Hollywood Park
Trainer Bob Baffert's Officer, the 2-year-old colt who won his first five races so effortlessly he was promoted as racing's latest wunderkind, will seek redemption from two dramatic setbacks in Saturday's $460,750 Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Siphonic, who overcame obstacles that compromised odds-on favorite Officer and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is expected to be a slight favorite in the grade I event at 1 1/16 miles that has produced five Kentucky Derby winners during its 20-year existence.

Jerry Bailey, the nation's money-leading rider who was aboard for Siphonic's game effort while racing along the difficult rail path at Belmont Park in the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup, will interrupt a vacation when flying from Florida to ride Siphon's son against seven rivals on Saturday.

Officer's reputation unraveled not only when fifth in the Breeders' Cup, but one week later when faltering at 2-5 odds in the California Cup Juvenile, losing by 1 1/2 lengths to Yougottawanna and jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.

The loss was the second successive for Officer at the Futurity distance after he had won his first try at 1 1/16 miles in Belmont Park's Champagne Stakes. The Champagne victory followed facile wins by a combined 22 1/2 lengths in four sprint races; two of them graded stakes events.

"I want to see if he can get a mile-and-a-sixteenth around two turns," Baffert said after deciding early this week to run Officer in the Futurity. "He's training well for it. If he can't get it now, I don't know that he'll ever get it."

Baffert and the Thoroughbred Corporation, the same connections who raced 2001 Horse of the Year favorite Point Given to victory in the 2000 Hollywood Futurity, opted for the Futurity over an easier spot previously considered for Officer: the California Breeders' Champion Stakes, a seven-furlong race at Santa Anita on Dec. 28.

Siphonic, trained by David Hofmans for John and Jerome Amerman, has only raced three times. After breaking his maiden at Del Mar during the summer, the Kentucky-bred colt won the grade II Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland by six lengths on Oct. 6. He took the lead in the stretch of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile while racing along the inside, but settled for third, 2 1/2 lengths behind victorious European sensation Johannesburg.

Publication, who rallied strongly for fourth at 103-1 odds in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is among the Futurity entrants, as is Officer's conqueror in the Cal Cup, Yougottawanna.

With earnings of $685,200 from his 5-1-0 record in seven starts, Officer is the most accomplished starter. He will be ridden for the first time by David Flores. Gary Stevens supplanted Victor Espinoza in the Cal Cup, but Stevens is riding in Hong Kong this weekend. Officer drew post position No. 5 in the Futurity. Baffert acknowledged "a lot of unanswered questions" about Officer. "But I think they'll be answered Saturday," he said.

Siphonic, with earnings of $429,982 from his three races, will break from post No. 4. "I've been very happy with him since the Breeders' Cup," Hofmans said. "He's keeping his flesh and he's keeping his mind."

Baffert, who has saddled three of the past four Futurity winners, also will send out Mountain Rage, winner of the Grade III Generous Stakes on grass in his last start, Nov. 24 at Hollywood Park. Mountain Rage was second to Yougottawanna in his previous start, the Pinjara on turf Oct. 12 at Santa Anita.

Pincay chose to ride Yougottawanna over Fonz's, whom he had guided to victory in the grade III Hollywood Prevue on Nov. 17. Owned by Halo Farms and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Yougottawanna has posted a 3-2-1 mark in six starts for earnings of $182,410.

The complete field for the Hollywood Futurity, in post position order with jockeys (all entrants carry 121 pounds): Brigadier Jones, Garrett Gomez; Mountain Rage, Eddie Delahoussaye; Yougottawanna, Pincay; Siphonic, Bailey; Officer, Flores; Labamta Babe, Kent Desormeaux; Publication, Mike Smith, and Fonz's, Alex Solis.

The entry of millionairess Tranquility Lake and defending champion Feverish will be a solid favorite in one of two supporting features, the grade II, $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. The Bayakoa field, in post position order with jockeys and weights: a-Tranquility Lake, Delahoussaye, 122; Queenie Belle, Brice Blanc, 118; Tropical Lady, Chris McCarron, 114; Critikola, Pincay, 116; Minor Details, Flores, 113; a-Feverish, Desormeaux, 116; Starrer, Bailey, 118, and Cee Dreams, Solis, 114. a-coupled.

Matiara Stakes winner Heads Will Roll likely will be favored to give Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel a record seventh stakes victory at Hollywood Park's Autumn Meet when carrying high weight of 117 pounds in the grade II, $150,000 Dahlia Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Frankel is tied with the late Charlie Whittingham for the Autumn Meet mark.

The Dahlia field, in post position order with jockeys and weights: Verruma, Gomez, 115; Be Fair, Blanc, 113; Vencera, Bailey, 113; Heads Will Roll, Solis, 117; Casa's Kids, Jose Valdivia Jr., 112; Catz, Goncalino Almeida, 111; Queen Of Wilshire, Pincay, 113; Kalatiara, McCarron, 116; Dancingonice, Tyler Baze, 114; Apollo's Music, Matt Garcia, 108, and Favorite Funtime, Victor Espinoza, 115.

Most Popular Stories