A baker's dozen were pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), but it will be an upside-down cake if anyone other than Officer enters the winner's circle following the 8 1/2 furlong match.
The Thoroughbred Corp's. undefeated son of Bertrando is the star of the show after five victories, including a facile demolition of the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) field Oct. 6 at the Juvenile distance over the Juvenile track. Cynics point to the fact that he has never been challenged, as if that is a shortcoming. The hunch here is that Officer has gears he hasn't been asked to use yet, and will only prove more impressive if someone else threatens to make a race of it. There are no sure things in this game, but Officer is the closest thing.
The most logical contenders to Officer have been profiled in this space in recent weeks. Siphonic comes off a huge win in the grade II Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, dusting his field by six lengths on the front end. The son of Siphon, conditioned by Dave Hofmans, is a threat if he gets a lonely lead. Jump Start, by A.P. Indy, stayed in the vicinity of Officer in the Champagne while racing greenly, and is ripe for improvement. Came Home, the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) conqueror, must overcome some time off after filling was discovered in his ankle and he missed his scheduled start in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II). That contest was won by Essence of Dubai, a son of Pulpit, who has been entered in the Juvenile along with stablemate Ibn Al Haitham, who placed second in the Norfolk.
The mystery horse in the field is the undefeated European Johannesburg, who has captured six in a row in England, Ireland, and France. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Johannesburg is by Hennessy, who finished second in the 1995 Juvenile to Unbridled's Song. Johannesburg has never raced on dirt or beyond six furlongs.
Among those thinking about taking a longshot stab at the Juvenile include Saarland, an impressive maiden winner who ran far behind Officer in the Champagne for owner Cynthia Phipps and trainer Shug McGaughey. Saarland is a son of Unbridled. Repent comes off a win in the gr. II Kentucky Cup Juvenile and has in his corner trainer Kenny McPeek, who has been hot with his young horses at Turfway Park and Keeneland. Repent is by Louis Quatorze.
Bob Hess Jr. has pre-entered Striking Song for fans of gray horses. The Unbridled's Song colt took down an impressive maiden victory at Santa Anita Oct. 8 by five lengths for the Fog City Stable of Bill Bianco and David Shimmon. That win came in his fourth career start. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has French Assault in the hunt following his runner-up effort to Repent in the Kentucky Cup and a win at Retama in the El Joven Stakes. The French Deputy colt will be a healthy longshot.
Rounding out the pre-entries are It'sallinthechase and Publication. The former finished second to the latter in the grade II Arlington-Washington Futurity Sept. 29. It'sallinthechase is by Take Me Out, and owns a maiden win from seven trips to the post. He is conditioned by Wilson Brown. Publication, by Petionville, is a perfect two-for-two, including the Arlington win and a maiden victory at Bay Meadows. Northern California-based Terry Knight trains for Triple Crown Bloodstock.
3) Came Home
4) Jump Start