11/05/2001 12:00AM

Officer out to regain his bars


ARCADIA, Calif. - Following losses in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and California Cup Juvenile on the last two Saturdays, Officer will have another chance later this fall to mend his battered reputation as one of the nation's top 2-year-olds.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Monday that Officer emerged in good shape from his second-place finish in the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. He will be pointed for the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15.

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Hollywood Futurity is the season's final major stakes for 2-year-olds. Baffert won the Futurity last year with Point Given, who like Officer, is owned by Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation.

Officer was sent off the 2-5 favorite in the California Cup Juvenile a week after he finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile as the 7-10 choice. Baffert wheeled him back in an effort to give the colt a race around two turns against a large field. At Belmont Park, Officer won the Champagne Stakes at 1 1/16 miles around one turn, the same conditions as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The California Cup Juvenile was run over the same distance but around two turns.

Baffert instructed jockey Gary Stevens, who was riding Officer for the first time, to rate the colt. Previously, Officer had raced on or near the lead.

Tenth on the first turn, Officer weaved his way through traffic on the backstretch to reach contention on the final turn while racing four wide.

Officer led by a half-length in mid-stretch, but was caught by Yougottawanna, who drew off by 1 1/2 lengths.

"Gary said if he had gunned him out of there to get position, he'd sail off," said Baffert, who was speaking from Phoenix, where he attended Sunday's Game 7 of the World Series.

"We're trying to teach him something and get him to relax. Gary said he wished he didn't have to make that long run. The horse is too young to do that."

Race winner Yougottawanna may start in the Hollywood Futurity. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Yougottawanna will be pointed for the $200,000 Generous Stakes at a mile on turf on Nov. 24.

Officer's loss did not clarify whether he can be effective around two turns.

"I think we'll know more about him after the Hollywood Futurity," Baffert said. "We know he's fast."