From Hollywood Park
Ending weeks of speculation, trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Wednesday that he would enter Officer and Mountain Rage in the $360,000-estimated Hollywood Futurity Saturday."They're the two that are doing the best," said Baffert Wednesday from his Santa Anita stable office. Baffert also had Popular and Hawk's Top Gun under consideration for the grade I test at 1 1/16 miles."I just wanted to see how he was doing," explained Baffert of the lengthy delay on a final decision with the high-profile Officer, winner of his first five starts, but fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and second in the California Cup Juvenile as the prohibitive favorite in his last two outings."He looks good; we'll find out Saturday about the distance," said Baffert, who named David Flores to ride the Thoroughbred Corp. colt for the first time. Gary Stevens rode Officer in his last start, while Victor Espinoza rode him in his first six.Stevens is riding in Hong Kong this weekend while Espinoza returned Wednesday after two weeks away from the circuit, one for an all-star jockey competition in Japan and one for a family visit in Mexico. "There was a question when Victor was getting back, and David had been getting on horses for me," explained Baffert.Baffert also named Eddie Delahoussaye to ride Mountain Rage for the first time. Flores rode the gray colt to victory in the Generous Stakes on the turf here Nov. 24 in his last start. Delahoussaye has won the Futurity twice, aboard Roving Boy in 1982 and A.P. Indy in 1991.Baffert seeks a record-equaling fourth Futurity victory in five years and third in a row. He won with Real Quiet in 1997, Captain Steve in 1999 and Point Given in 2000.The Futurity has produced 12 champions for a total of 17 championships, and Point Given is a heavy favorite to add to those numbers this year.The Baffert duo is likely to face six rivals, including two who finished ahead of Officer in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and another who upset him in the California Cup Juvenile.Yougottawanna, who pulled off the Cal Cup upset Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, arrived at Hollywood Park Tuesday evening after being shipped south from Golden Gate Fields by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.Yougottawanna, a gelding by Candi's Gold, settled into Stall 39 in the John Sadler stable in Barn 55 North. A homebred owned by Ted Aroney's Halo Farms, Yougottawanna arrived with groom Freddy Salas and jogged on the main track Wednesday.Hollendorfer, who won the 1988 Futurity with King Glorious, will be here Saturday to saddle the gelding. Laffit Pincay, Jr., the leader in Futurity winners with four, will again be aboard.Siphonic and Publication finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, just in front of Officer. Siphonic, the probable favorite, will be ridden by national earnings leader Jerry Bailey for trainer David Hofmans.Publication was shipped south Wednesday afternoon from Bay Meadows by trainer Terry Knight and will be stabled with trainer Ian Jory in Barn 60 South. Knight said that Mike Smith, who rode Publication in the Breeders' Cup, has the call back.Fonz's and Labamta Babe, one-three finishers respectively in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes, and English import Brigadier Jones are expected to complete the lineup."He worked good the other day, and we're planning to supplement," said trainer Kathy Walsh of Brigadier Jones at Santa Anita. "It's a big step up, and I'm not sure if he is as seasoned as the other colts, but he's very professional. He's coming over today (Wednesday) and will school today and tomorrow." Brigadier Jones will be stabled with Richard Mandella in Barn 50 North.Brigadier Jones, an Irish-bred son of Emperor Jones, started twice in England, finishing fourth in a maiden race at Newcastle Oct. 3 and winning the Median Auction Maiden Stakes on the dirt track at Southwell Oct. 18, winning the six-furlong race by three lengths under 126 pounds. He has worked three times at Santa Anita, most recently six furlongs Sunday, since being purchased by bloodstock agent Richard Duggan and Jim Vreeland.Brigadier Jones, Publication, Siphonic and Labamta Babe would all be supplementary entries.The probable Futurity field: Siphonic (Bailey), Officer (Flores), Yougottawanna (Pincay), Publication (Smith), Fonz's (Alex Solis), Labamta Babe (Kent Desormeaux), Mountain Rage (Delahoussaye) and Brigadier Jones (Garrett Gomez). All will carry 121 pounds.