Updated on 09/15/2011 2:10PM

'Heavyweight' vs. heavyweight Officer


ELMONT, N.Y. - For several years, John Terranova's New York barn has been a safe haven for Bob Baffert's West Coast shippers.

Terranova and his wife, Tonja - friends of Baffert since the late 1980's - have housed and helped prepare a number of Baffert's stakes winners including Point Given, Silverbulletday, El Corredor, and River Keen.

Saturday, when Baffert leads Officer over as the odds-on favorite for the $500,000 Champagne, the Terranovas will not be part of the cheering section. Instead, they will be bringing running Heavyweight Champ, a potential land mine for Officer in his quest to remain unbeaten heading into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Heavyweight Champ is the main speed of the $500,000 Champagne, which drew a field of five. The question is whether the son of Two Punch can carry that speed for 1 1/16 miles. Heavyweight Champ is 2 for 2 at Belmont including an 8 1/2-length victory in a seven-furlong allowance race last out.

"He's relaxed nice for us in the morning," John Terranova said. "His last race did him a lot of good mentally. I think he should move up off that effort. We'll have to wait and see if he's going to be effective at the distance."

Although Officer has been brilliant winning his first four races, he also must prove himself beyond seven furlongs. From what trainer Bob Baffert has seen that should not be a problem.

"I think that question will be answered as we go along, but he does things so easy," Baffert said. "I've never let him down in the morning or the afternoon; maybe he's full out on cruise control, but I don't think so. He's just an awesome horse. I never had one like this, so precocious so early."

The connections of Jump Start have been salivating at the prospect of stretching out the A.P. Indy colt. After winning the Saratoga Special, Jump Start ran fifth in the Grade 1 Hopeful without much explanation. He will get blinkers for the Champagne.

"He's a pretty laid-back, easy-going horse; the blinkers might put him up in the race a little bit," said assistant trainer Mike Marlow. "Even the stakes that he won, Pat [Day] stayed pretty busy throughout the race. His last two works have been in blinkers and he has worked well."

Saarland, a son of Unbridled, won his maiden at a mile. His pedigree and the fact he trains here give three-time Champagne winning trainer Shug McGaughey encouragement.

"I think he naturally wants to run long, he's done very well since he broke his maiden," McGaughey said. "Some of the others might be suspect whether they want to run that far or not."

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