Updated on 09/15/2011 12:59PM

Officer Belmont-bound for Champagne


DEL MAR, Calif. - The horse vans were rolling en masse out of the stable area at Del Mar on Thursday morning, carrying horses who had remained for Wednesday's closing-day card, but two of the departees will have only a brief stay in Los Angeles before heading to New York.

Both Officer and Kamsack, who finished first and second in the Del Mar Futurity, are going to make their next start in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. They are part of a large contingent of California-based stakes horses who are forgoing Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting in order to prepare for the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont.

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Officer, said the unbeaten Bertrando colt came out of the race in good order. He said Officer would train at Santa Anita until he leaves for New York. Officer gave Baffert a record sixth straight victory in the Del Mar Futurity.

"He showed me that you could do anything you want with him," Baffert said at his Del Mar barn on Thursday morning. "He's very light on his feet. He was just cruising.

"He's got a mind like Silver Charm. He can relax on the lead, or you can take him back. I had others that were fast, but they couldn't control their speed like him.

"Victor [Espinoza] just let him run around the turn a little bit," Baffert added. "He does everything so easy. I've won this race with some good horses, but he does it effortlessly. Those were good horses he ran against, and he put them away like them were nothing."

Baffert said the location of the Breeders' Cup had little effect on where he wants to run Officer. More important to him was giving Officer the opportunity to win a Grade 1 race. The Del Mar Futurity is a Grade 2. "We went to the Champagne last year with Point Given, and the Breeders' Cup wasn't there," Baffert said.

Joining Officer in New York for Baffert will be the 2-year-old filly Habibti, winner of the Del Mar Debutante. She will make her next start in the Frizette Stakes on Oct. 6.

Kamsack, who finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Officer, boarded a van Thursday morning around 9:30 a.m. for the Hollywood Park barn of his trainer, Christopher Paasch. Bonnie Lord, Paasch's wife and assistant trainer, said Paasch "mentioned going to the Champagne."

She said that Roman Dancer, who finished fourth in the Hopeful Stakes last weekend at Saratoga, returned to California on Wednesday and likely would be kept off the Breeders' Cup trail.

Ecstatic waits for Ky. Cup Juvenile

Baffert scratched Ecstatic from the Del Mar Futurity because both he and Officer are owned by Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation. Rather than run Ecstatic against Officer, Baffert decided to await the Kentucky Cup Juvenile on Sept. 22 at Turfway Park.

Baffert won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile last year with Point Given.

Saudi Poetry, a stakes-winning 4-year-old filly also owned by The Thoroughbred Corporation, is heading to Turfway for a Kentucky Cup race, too, Baffert said.

Cal. Cup Classic next for Figlio Mio

Figlio Mio, who was narrowly beaten by El Corredor in Sunday's one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, will make his next start in the $250,000 California Cup Classic on Nov. 3, trainer Ben Cecil said Thursday morning.

"The only thing that worries me is that the race is a mile and an-eighth," Cecil said. "But it's the best spot for him." Figlio Mio has never raced beyond a mile.