San Felipe Contenders, Officer Work

By Margaret Ransom
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Puerto Banus, gearing up for Sunday's San Felipe Stakes (gr.II), worked five furlongs in :59 2/5, handily, over Santa Anita's fast main track Tuesday morning. Trainer Bob Baffert was very pleased with the effort and is looking forward to a top effort from the son of Supremo in the 1 1/16-mile Triple Crown prep race.

"He worked super," Baffert said. "I am very happy with what he showed me today. Now we just have to see how he runs this weekend."

Puerto Banus, who is a half-brother to top distaffer Spain, finished second in the February 8 Sham Stakes last out and will be making his fourth career start in the San Felipe. Overall he owns a career line of 3-1-1-0 for earnings of $46,570.

One Baffert-trained horse who will not be making a trip to Louisville for the Run for the Roses is Moss and Jacobs' Mountain Rage. After briefly considering the son of Mecke for Saturday's San Felipe, the conditioner decided a grass campaign was a better option for the grade III winner.

"We got over our Derby fever with this one really quick," Baffert joked. "He's going to stay on the grass. He just tries so hard I'm afraid if I keep running him on dirt he'll just hurt himself."

Mountain Rage, who won the grassy Generous Stakes (gr. III) and the Hill Rise Stakes, will run in Thursday's first half of the $75,000 Academy Road S. set at one mile on the turf. He drew post position five in the eight-horse field and will be ridden by David Flores.

In other San Felipe news, Maeda Koji's Japanese-bred Sunday Break worked six furlongs in 1:15 4/5, handily, across town at Hollywood Park on Tuesday. Sunday's main event will be the son of Forty Niner's first stakes attempt after breaking his maiden and then taking a non-winners "other than" allowance at 1 1/6 miles last out.

Sham S. winner U.S.S. Tinosa, also set to run in the San Felipe, is expected to arrive at Santa Anita Wednesday and will blow out for the race on Thursday with Hall of Fame nominee Kent Desormeax in the irons. The multiple stakes-winning Ohio-bred son of Foxhound is owned by the partnership of Peter Abruzzo and Barry Thiriot is and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.

Baffert also sent out The Thoroughbred Corporations' grade I winner Officer for a workout Tuesday and the colt responded with an impressive bullet six furlongs in 1:10 2/5, breezing. The California-bred son of Bertrando hasn't raced since a third-place finish in the December 15 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and spent several weeks being refreshed on his owners' California farm.

"He looks really good, doesn't he?" Baffert asked. "He's really come back around and I am extremely happy with how well he's doing. I don't know where he'll start next. Maybe out of town or something, but we'll look at everything and make a decision. We have lots of options for him."

Officer, who won last year's Champagne S. (gr. I), Del Mar Futurity (gr. II), Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) and Graduation S. before finishing up the year as an Eclipse Award finalist as 2001's top two-year-old colt, has earned $740,010 from a record of 8-5-1-1.