Maybe Bob Baffert is going to have to ride Officer himself to get the colt back to the winner's circle.
For the second time in a week, Officer failed as the big favorite, checking in second in Saturday's $125,000 California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. Seven days earlier, he was a fading fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile a continent away at Belmont Park.
Each time, there were issues with the ride.
In the Breeder's Cup, Victor Espinoza put the Bertrando colt into a speed duel with Came Home and he had nothing left for the stretch run. Baffert was not critical of the ride but said the positioning cost Officer any chance.
Saturday, Espinoza had a previous commitment and Gary Stevens took the leg up on Officer. After sitting well off the pace, Stevens hit the gas pedal on the backstretch and took the lead from Yougottawanna midway down the lane -- only to see Yougottawanna rally to win by 1 ½ lengths.
"I made too much of a middle move," Stevens said. "He really hung with me the last eighth. But that was my fault, not his. He's a quality colt and I'll take the blame for this one."
Baffert again was not critical of his rider and said Officer "got a good schooling out of it." He said he still plans to run the colt, who was unbeaten before the Breeders' Cup, in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 15.
Yougottawanna, a son of Candi's Gold, finished the 1 1/16 mile under Laffit Pincay Jr. in 1:37.33. Surprized, a stablemate in trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's barn, was third.
"I never lost hope," Pincay said. "When (Officer) went by me, he was about a half length in front of me. But I still had horse. I was still working on my horse. Soon I felt like my horse was responding and I said, 'Boy, I've still got a chance.'"
Baffert's surprise decision to run Officer back on a week's rest made the Juvenile the main attraction of California Cup Day. In other events on the stellar card:
--Irisheyesareflying was flying in the lane in the $250,000 Cal Cup Classic, sponsored by Wells Fargo. The 5-year-old son of Flying Continental, always close, came four-wide into the stretch, passed Figlio Mio and got home first by 2 ½ lengths. Vixen Storm was third. Irisheyesareflying, with Kent Desormeaux up, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:49.14. "Once we straightened up," said Desormeaux, "my horse exploded and was able to get back by the horse that got a dream run (Figlio Mio). This guy has his mind on business."
--Ceeband took over in the stretch to win the $150,000 Sprint by 2 lengths over Stormy Jack. Gibson County was third. Ceeband, a 4-year-old by Chimes Band, finished in 1:08.82. The second- and third-place finishers both are trained by Baffert. John Sadler saddled the winner.
--Lady George just caught Fragrant Cloud at the wire to win the $125,000 Juvenile Fillies by a head. Believe in Slew was third.
--Native Desert ran from the back of the nine-horse field to win the $175,000 Mile by a head over Spinelessjellyfish. Native Desert, an 8-year-old son of Desert Classic, was clocked in 1:34.97.
--Cee Dreams, a 5-year-old Cee's Tizzy mare, took command in the stretch to win the $150,000 Matron by 2 lengths over Favorite Funtime. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:43.48 under Pincay.
--Jeweled Pirate, toting Chris McCarron, used a late move to win the $150,000 Distaff by 1 ½ lengths over Warren's Whistle. Jeweled Pirate, a 4-year-old Pirate's Bounty filly, ran the about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf in 1:12.72.
In other weekend racing:
Lotta Rhythm dropped back on the turn for home, but then was up in the late going to win Saturday's $100,000 Pocahontas Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by a neck over Cunning Play. Joanies Bella was third. Lotta Rhythm, by Rhythm, won for the third time in four lifetime starts, completing the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.96. Trainer Hal Wiggins said the win makes him think Kentucky Oaks. "I think so," he said. "I can just see her getting better and I think she's going to handle the distance okay. If we keep her head right, she'll be okay." Winning rider Marlon St. Julien said Lotta Rhythm "backed out of the race" on the turn. "I don't know why she did that....The filly has still got a little greenness in her."
In Saturday's co-feature, jockey Pat Day celebrated his "bobble-head doll" promotion with a front-running victory aboard Nasty Storm in the $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff. Nasty Storm, a 3-year-old daughter of Gulch, went right to the lead, with Forest Secrets right behind all the way around, winning by 1 ¼ lengths. The 1 mile took 1:35.90. "It was a big effort," Day said. "I knew we were running pretty quick but she was getting over the ground -- just tiptoeing over it and just oving well under me and very relaxed." Trainer Dallas Stewart, who has Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine penciled in for the Falls City Handicap on Nov. 22, said he's not sure where Nasty Storm will start next. She is in the program for Tuesday's sale at Keeneland but Stewart -- a part owner with Denny Crum -- said he's not sure if the filly will be sold.
Sunday, trainer Ken McPeek saddled Harlan's Holiday to win the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes for 2-year-olds. The Harlan colt drew clear in the stretch to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Request For Parole in stakes-record time of 1:35.01. McPeek, for all his success in top races, surprisingly captured his first Churchill Downs stakes event. He also trains Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Repent and could have both Repent and Harlan's Holiday for the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 24. "I've got a tough decision to make in about three weeks," McPeek allowed. "Do I run them both or do I run one?"
Hawthorne Race Course
On paper, Saturday's $150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial was a two-horse race, between defending champ Where's Taylor and California invader Good Journey. And it looked like those two would be the finalists as the field rolled down the stretch in the 1-mile turf event. No one, however, remembered to tell Galic Boy, who came roaring up the middle of the course to post a 24-1 upset victory. With Ray Sibille up, the 6-year-old son of Irish River got home in 1:35.10. "This was the best race of his career today and to have that come as a 6-year-old really helps," said winning trainer Mickey Goldfine. "He's an Irish River and they're notoriously late starters." Corie Lanerie, who rode Where's Taylor from the No. 1 hole, said a combination of give in the course and being forced to the inside compromised his chances.
Catch the Ring came with a late run to win Saturday's $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes for fillies and mares by ½ length over her front-running stablemate, Mountain Angel. Madame Red was third. Catch the Ring, a 4-year-old daughter of Seeking the Gold, scored her first victory of the year. Last year, the filly captured the Canadian Oaks and was named Canada's top 3-year-old filly. "They both ran super races," said trainer Mark Frostad. "They're both lovely fillies. Mountain Angel had to give Catch the Ring 2 pounds and it proved too much today."
Sunday, Poetically got past pace-setting favorite Beautiful Belle as they turned for home in the $100,000 Jammed Lovely Stakes, then went on to win by 3 ½ lengths. Beautiful Belle held second. Jockey David Clark said Poetically, a 3-year-old daughter of Silver Deputy, "had some problems in the spring and she's just now starting to come around."
Rochelle's Terms saved ground, then swung wide and circled the field to win Saturday's $100,000 Turnback The Alarm Handicap by ½ length over Resort. The favorite, Strolling Belle, who stumbled at the stasrt, was 2 lengths farther back in third. Rochelle's Terms, a 4-year-old Private Terms filly, ran 9 furlongs in 1:51.19. Winning rider Robbie Davis said the filly needs cover to run her race. "She settled perfectly and was able to come with that one run outside," Davis said.
Evening Attire outfinished Street Cry to win Wednesday's $100,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1 length. Free of Love was third. Evening Attire, a son of Black Tie Affair, got the 9 furlongs in 1:48.62 under Shaun Bridgmohan. "I thought he'd like two turns at Aqueduct because he's a long-striding horse," said winning trainer P.J. Kelly. It was the first start in six months for Street Cry and jockey David Flores said the colt needed the work. "He came home nice," Flores said. Street Cry likely will return to Dubai and be a candidate for the Dubai World Cup next March.
Sunday, Riskaverse took command in deep stretch to capture the $75,000 Miss Grillo Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 1 ¼ length over favorite Lujien Lujien. Kathy K D was third. Riskaverse, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:51.61. Said winning jockey Robbie Davis, "I was able to tuck down inside going into the first turn and that helped a lot." Trainer P.J. Kelly said Riskaverse may run next in the Miesque at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23.
I Love Silver didn't go in the ultra-tough Breeders' Cup Sprint, then found a more favorable spot in Friday's $75,000 Skywalker Handicap. Racing from last in a field of seven, the 3-year-old Silver Ghost gelding passed them all to win by 2 lengths over Bosque Redondo. So Urgent was third and the favorite, Millennium Wind, was last. The 1-mile event took 1:34.97.
Sunday, Golden Apples ralled strongly into the lane to run down pace-setting Dancingonice and win Sunday's $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap by ¾ length. Janet was third as the favorite. Golden Apples, an Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal, ran 9 furlongs on the grass in 1:46.61. Trainer Ben Cecil said he told jockey Garrett Gomez, "Let her come out of there, just let her get relaxed and let her make that one run like we did at Del Mar. And it worked perfectly." He said he is panning to run Golden Apples back in the $500,000 Matriarch at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25.
One Eyed Joker and Moomtazz rushed for the lead in the final sixteenth of Saturday night's $100,000 Rushing Man Stakes with One Eyed Joker getting to the line first by a head. First Spear was third in the 1 1/16 mile turf test for 3-year-olds. One Eyed Joker, a Maryland-bred son of Polish Numbers, was clocked in 1:41.64.
In the evening's co-featured $100,000 Holly Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Al Max Diner led most of the way to win by 3 ¾ lengths over Phyxius -- which would be a great Scrabble word. Forum Search was third. Al Max Diner, the favorite, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.75. She is a Florida-bred daughter of End Sweep.
La Reine's Terms took the overland route around rivals to win Saturday's $75,000 Find Handicap for Maryland-breds. La Reine's Terms finished the 9 furlongs in 1:50.12, with New York invader My Request second. Cynics Beware was third.
Tour the Hive toured the winner's circle after Saturday's $75,000 Mountaineer Mile. The Florida-bred 4-year-old, by Tour d'Or, rallied from just off the pace to beat favorite Little Lee by ½ length. Ewer All Wet was third. Tour the Hive finished in 1:37.53 over a muddy track.
Blue Steller justified his odds-on status in Sunday's $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby, roaring from last in a field of eight to win by 1 ½ lengths. The Irish-bred Barathea colt, with Alex Solis up, saved ground until the stretch run, then split the leaders to take command. Sir Alfred was home second, with Sea to See third. Blue Steller, another in the long string of 2001 stakes winners trained by Bobby Frankel, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.81. Solis came north to ride the colt even though he is in a heated race with Laffit Pincay Jr. for the jockey crown at the Santa Anita Oak Tree meeting. "We can be leading rider next year or maybe at Hollywood," Solis said. "But I didn't want to lose this horse. He has a lot of class."
Cinnful Bride drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Bam's Penny for state-bred 2-year-old fillies by 3 lengths over Bigboystoy. Cinnful Bride, by Regal Groom, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.68. The fave, Excessive Prayer, ran fifth.
News and notes
Exogenous was euthanized Friday morning because of complications from the injuries she sustained before the Breeders' Cup Distaff last weekend. Veterinarian Nancy Brennan said swelling around the filly's brain worsened Thursday, leading to seizures. "We didn't want her to suffer any more," Brennan said. The daughter of Unbridled won five of 12 lifetime starts....The $50,000 guaranteed Pick 6 at Hawthorne Race Course was hit on each of the first three days of the track's fall meet, and then again Sunday on the fifth day....