10/18/2001 11:00PM

BC Juvenile: Hofmans cast in role of spoiler again


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer David Hofmans may be getting fitted for the black hat again.

In 1997, Hofmans sent out Touch Gold to defeat Silver Charm in the Belmont Stakes, denying racing its 12th Triple Crown winner. The year before, Hofmans saddled Alphabet Soup to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic, putting a damper on the final race of the brilliant Cigar.

Now, as the racing world hopes to anoint Officer its brightest star in next Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Hofmans may have the party-pooper in Siphonic. For his part, Hofmans plays the role of spoiler extremely well.

"I don't believe in giving any championship races to anybody,'' Hofmans, 58, said. "It's okay for a horse, every now and then, to get a race they don't deserve. But, I don't believe that in championship races. I believe, like a heavyweight fighter, they've got to earn that championship. If [Officer] is going to be the champion 2-year-old, then he's got to beat the best ones around. If I have one that can test him, we're going to test him.''

Siphonic, a lightly-raced son of Siphon, is surely one of the ones that will test Officer in the Juvenile, which drew 13 pre-entries. Although Siphonic has only started twice, he has impressed Hofmans with his professionalism.

"His attitude impresses me very much,'' said Hofmans, who trains the horse for John and Jerome Amerman. "`He can be on the lead with another horse, not really intimidated or pulling on the rider like horses do when they're hooked. He just waits for the rider to push the button. In the Futurity, horses were outside of him and those jocks were asking their horses to run. He was waiting for [Chris] McCarron to ask him to push the button. That's the part that impresses me.''

When McCarron did push the button in the Futurity, Siphonic exploded away from his rivals through the lane to win by six. Despite that impressive performance, McCarron will ride Came Home, the undefeated winner of the Hopeful, in the Juvenile.

Jerry Bailey, who has won three of the last five Juveniles, has picked up the mount on Siphonic and will work the colt Monday at Belmont.

Siphonic has been at Belmont since Oct. 10. On Tuesday, he breezed a strong five furlongs in 59.65 seconds over the main track. On Friday, he impressed exercise rider Michelle Jensen with his 1 1/2-mile gallop.

"Today was an exceptional day,'' Jensen said. "He's just really coming around. He seems to be getting focused, looking for the next race.''

Unbridled's Song (1995) and Gilded Time (1992) both won the Juvenile having made just two previous starts. Officer is undefeated in five starts, including a win in the Grade 1 Champagne over this track.

"That is a big advantage to Officer,'' Hofmans concedes. "We're playing catch-up, where he's already been there. Fortunately, our horse has a good mind and seems not to be frazzled too much. He came out of his races pretty calm. But, apparently, Officer has the same type of attitude.''

Hofmans said Officer reminds him of Point Given entering the Kentucky Derby. Of course, Point Given was defeated in the Derby, his only loss of the year.

"I think he's going to be one of the better horses we have,'' Hofmans said of Officer. "I'm just happy to be able to run against him.''

And he would be happier to beat him.