Del Mar Report (Cont.)

Continued from part 1


Victor Espinoza is a lucky guy. He was the first jockey to ever ride Fusaichi Pegasus. He was the first to win on Point Given. Every so often he straps in tight and feels the rush of El Corredor. But none of it quite compares to the flat-out jolt that courses through Espinoza's sculpted body whenever he's hoisted aboard Officer.

The rest of us can only sit back, relax, and watch a superstar in the works, pondering just what wonders Officer has in store. We should be so blessed.

Our latest glimpse came in the $138,000 Best Pal Stakes (gr. III), which for Officer amounted to nothing more than an afternoon gallop. But it's a sight the locals by now are used to.

"He's unbelievable, that horse," remarked one trainer. Few would argue.

The son of Bertrando was a mere rumor until July, when he blasted maidens by six first time out, then won again, this time by eight, in Del Mar's Graduation Stakes. Each time, Espinoza barely moved a muscle. In the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal, Officer was simply breathtaking--again.

It was a simple gesture, a slight relaxation of Espinoza's fingers, that gave Officer his signal at the three-eighths pole. His acceleration was instant and decisive. With Espinoza motionless the rest of the way, Officer coasted around the turn, leaving both Metatron and Essence of Dubai behind, and virtually jogged home. Amazingly, he still managed to cover six furlongs in 1:08.43, and his final time, a nonchalant 1:15.08, smashed Cobra King's stakes record.

At this point, there doesn't seem to be anything that can stop him. Owned by The Thoroughbred Corp., Officer is the latest in a long line of all-star 2-year-olds trained by Bob Baffert. According to Baffert, however, he may be the best yet.

"He's in another league," Baffert said. Look for him in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) on Sept. 5.


When you live just down the shedrow from Kona Gold, it's hard to make a name for yourself. Kalookan Queen, however, has always been special. On Aug. 19, she finally got her moment to shine.

Not that she hasn't been trying. Owned by Luis Asistio, Kalookan Queen has been a rock of consistency from the moment she set foot in the Bruce Headley barn. In the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III), Kalookan Queen finally got the best of the brilliant Go Go.

Kalookan Queen had already taken two shots at Go Go. Once, a bad break cost her any chance. Prior to that, Solis and Kalookan Queen tried to blow the race wide open at the quarter pole. Go Go still got them. When the two locked up in the Rancho Bernardo, Solis had a different tactic in mind.

"This time, I said, 'I'm going to wait for her and just fight it out down the stretch,'" Solis said. "And may the best horse win."

As expected, Go Go came at them leaving the turn, but Kalookan Queen was ready. Carrying 119 pounds to Go Go's 125, the Lost Code mare kept her rival at bay, prevailing by a head in 1:15.52.