Updated on 09/15/2011 1:15PM

Countdown to the Cup: The Juvenile (10/18)


ELMONT, N.Y. - Despite his brilliance winning all five of his starts, Officer did not scare anyone out of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. A total of 13 juvenile colts were pre-entered for the $1 million Juvenile, run at 1 1/16 miles.

Officer, a son of 1991 Juvenile runner-up Bertrando, has won all of his starts with breathtaking ease. After dominating his competition in California, he shipped cross-country and romped to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont. Jockey Victor Espinoza sat motionless on Officer for the entire 1 1/16 miles.

"He's done everything without having to lay his body on the line," said trainer Bob Baffert, who came up a nose short in last year's Juvenile with Point Given. "It's going to be interesting to see what he does Breeders' Cup Day. He's the most precocious horse I've had to this point. Hopefully, he'll turn out to be as good as Point Given. So far, he's got all the tools."

Despite the large field, Officer will most likely be the shortest-priced favorite on the Breeders' Cup card. He will do the bulk of his training in Southern California before shipping to New York on Tuesday.

Officer is one of five undefeated horses preentered in the Juvenile. Came Home, Siphonic, Johannesburg, and Publication also have never lost.

Came Home, who won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, has been regarded as the second-best juvenile in the country. He missed the Norfolk Stakes due to filling in an ankle. Any lingering doubts that he would make the Breeders' Cup were erased in the last week when he put in two solid workouts at Santa Anita. Wednesday, he drilled six furlongs in 1:12.60 at Santa Anita.

Jockey Chris McCarron worked Came Home and said he has no doubts the horse can fire his best shot despite having missed his last scheduled prep. "Yes, he can," McCarron said with conviction.

Asked why he felt so confident, McCarron said "because I asked him that question last week and he put a big smile on my face."

McCarron is the regular rider of Came Home and Siphonic. He is expected to choose Came Home. If so, Jerry Bailey will ride Siphonic.

Siphonic is 2 for 2 after winning the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6. He has already arrived in New York and on Tuesday worked five furlongs in 59.65 seconds. While trainer David Hofmans has a healthy respect for Officer, he believes Officer will be tested like never before in the Juvenile.

"There'll be some horses with speed that can stay. I don't think Officer has run against horses like that before," Hofmans said. "I think he's run against some nice horses, but not the caliber that's going to be in this race."

D. Wayne Lukas has won the Juvenile five times. He will be represented this year by Jump Start, who won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and finished second to Officer in the Champagne.

Godolphin Racing, which last year finished third in the Juvenile with Street Cry, will be represented by Essence of Dubai, the Norfolk winner, and Ibn Al Haitham, the Norfolk runner-up who remains a maiden. Both horses arrived in New York on Tuesday.

Johannesburg, a son of 1995 Juvenile runner-up Hennessey, has won all six of his starts sprinting on turf in Europe. Trainer Aidan O'Brien believes stretching out and trying a new surface will be within his scope.

The Juvenile is sponsored by Bessemer Trust, which also sponsors the Bessemer Trust Two-Year-Old Challenge, a bonus for the connections of a horse that wins a designated summer stakes and the Juvenile. Officer, Came Home, Siphonic, Essence of Dubai, and Publication are eligible for the $250,000 bonus.

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