Updated on 09/15/2011 1:11PM

Officer dominates Champagne

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Michael J. Marten
Officer rolls to easy 3 3/4-length win in Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - After crushing four rivals in Saturday's $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, Officer heads to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile as the heavy favorite.

With no whip encouragement from jockey Victor Espinoza, Officer, the 1-5 favorite, was a 3 3/4-length winner over Jump Start in the Grade 1 Champagne. Heavyweight Champ, the second choice at 5-1, finished third, a half-length behind the runner-up. Saarland, who got off to a horrible start, and Thunder Days completed the order of finish.

The Champagne was Officer's fifth win from as many starts, and his first race outside of California. It also was Officer's first race beyond seven furlongs.

Officer closely tracked the pacesetter, Heavyweight Champ, before effortlessly assuming the lead turning for home. Espinoza wrapped up the colt in the final furlong of the

1 1/16-mile race.

Espinoza said he shook the reins at Officer at the top of the stretch, but never touched him with his whip.

"It was easier than it looked," Espinoza said. "He's a pro; he's a champion."

Officer's trainer, Bob Baffert, also heaped praise on his colt.

"At this stage, I've never had a

2-year-old as good as this colt," said Baffert, who finished second with Point Given in last year's Champagne. "He was just a superstar. He's a remarkable horse."

Officer ($2.60) covered the distance in 1:43.39

Baffert said he hadn't decided whether Officer, who is owned by Prince Ahmed bin Salman, would remain in New York or return to California to train for the Breeders' Cup.

Baffert said he was happy the prince talked him into coming to New York, rather than prepping for the Juvenile in California.

"I'm glad we brought him," said Baffert, who visited the site of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Friday. "The community needs a lift and can be excited about a horse like that."

Fly So Free (1990) and Timber Country (1994) are the only horses to win both the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile.